Russian airlines cancel some Czech flights in route row

MOSCOW/PRAGUE (Reuters) - Aeroflot and two other Russian airlines canceled several flights to and from the Czech Republic on Tuesday after the Czech Transport Ministry withdrew permits for the flights.

The ministry said it took action after Russia limited the right of national carrier Czech Airlines to use routes across Siberia on its flights from Prague to Seoul.

The ministry said however that following a Russian decision early on Tuesday to grant temporary access to the transit routes until July 7, it would also authorize Russian carriers' flights to the Czech Republic until that date to provide time for negotiations.

Czech Airlines parent Smartwings said in a statement that access to the Siberian routes was anchored in a inter-government agreement.

It said Russia's actions were unprecedented and were "threatening our business interests on the Prague-Seoul connection".

Russia's Transport Ministry said talks were under way between Russian and Czech aviation authorities and it expected the issue to be resolved quickly.

Aeroflot said it had been forced to cancel flights SU2010/2011, SU2014/2015, SU2016/2017 and SU2018/2019 despite being ready to fly, but that two others would fly as normal.

Russian budget airline Pobeda said it had canceled two bi-weekly flights to the spa town of Karlovy Vary.

Ural Airlines suspended all flights between the Czech Republic and the city of Yekaterinburg and Zhukovsky international airport near Moscow.

Later, Ural Airlines' general director said it had obtained permits for flights from Yekaterinburg and that those would fly as normal.

The Prague Airport said on its website that as of 0930 GMT, four flights from Moscow and one from Zhukovsky scheduled for Tuesday were canceled. One flight from and one to Seoul scheduled for Tuesday were scheduled.

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov, Andrey Kuzmin in Moscow and Jan Lopatka in Prague; Writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Alexander Smith and Jason Neely)

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