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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The Civil Aviation Authority suspended flights to three southern Russian cities on Sunday following a dispute with Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency.
All flights from Israel to Sochi, Rostov and Krasnodar have been discontinued until further notice.
Giora Romm, director-general of the CAA, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday the underlying cause of the dispute was an attempt by the Russian aviation authority to create a situation in which Russian airlines would dominate the routes at the expense of Israeli carriers.
As part of its attempt to limit Israeli airline access to the Russian cities, Federal Air Transport Agency had failed to meet Israeli security requirements, such as the deployment of armed security guards at the three airports in question, Romm said.
"Aviation agreements between countries must be based on fully reciprocal relations, in terms of the number of flights involved," he said. "In these three cities, the Russians are giving us problems and not letting us fly there. They expect Russian airlines to dominate."
"We want security at those three airports to be on the same level as it is in Moscow and St. Petersburg," Romm said.
The rejection of Israeli security requirements was an "excuse" to limit the flights of Israeli airlines, he said, accusing the Russian agency of failing to conduct a dialogue. "So this has hit a dead end," Romm added.
"This to me looks unacceptable, and therefore I put a stop to it," he said, regarding his decision to stop all flights to the three cities.
"These disputes occur from time to time. I think eventually a solution will be found," Romm said.