New power cuts threaten Moscow's main airport
Moscow: Weather-related power outages around Moscow threatened the operations on Monday of Russia's busiest airport, which already experienced historic disruptions one week ago, news reports said.
Domodedovo airport, which handles a daily average of more than 55,000 travellers, was forced to start using a backup electric substation amid service disruptions that affected some 80 villages around Moscow, Interfax reported.
A special unit from Russia's Emergencies Ministry was dispatched to the airport to ensure that the lights stayed on and regular operations continued, ITAR-TASS said.
The southeastern Moscow airport was not experiencing any unusual disruptions as of Monday morning, news reports said.
Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo airports were forced to cancel hundreds of flights between December 26 and 28 when unseasonably warm weather produced freezing rain showers that downed trees and power lines around the city.
Periodic outages have continued since that weekend, with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordering three top officials to spend New Year's Eve with affected residents as punishment for failing to resolve the problem on time.
The transport oversight agency also pledged on Monday that its decision to ground some of the workhorse Tu-154 aircraft following a deadly jet explosion would not jeopardise the country's air travel.
One of the older models of the Tupolev jet burst into flames while reading for takeoff in a Siberian oil town on Saturday in an accident that killed three people and injured more than 30 others.
The latest disaster to affect Russia's maligned aviation industry prompted a series of top-level government meetings that concluded with a Sunday evening decision to ground the older B model of the Soviet-era jet.
But the Federal Transport Oversight Agency stressed on Monday that the order affected only 14 of the hundreds of Tu-154 jets that fly post-Soviet skies.
"The introduction of temporary restriction on the use of the Tu-154B-2 aircraft will not affect the commercial activity of the Russian airlines that use them," an agency spokesman told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.
"Their temporary removal from operations will not impact airline performance as a whole," said the spokesman. "They have things with which to replace them."