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Cabinet Blesses Foreign Pilots Bill

A Cabinet commission has backed a bill to allow Russian airlines to hire foreign pilots amid a dearth of skilled local professionals, a news report said Wednesday.

The Transportation Ministry, which put together the bill, is primarily looking to fill the ranks of pilot captains, RIA Novosti reported.

The shortage was getting worse from 1995 to 2009 when pilot schools trained 160 people a year at best, too few to make up for the 700 pilots that left their jobs annually for various reasons, the report said.

In this situation, the overall level of qualification in the pilot corps was in decline, it said.

Airlines now need to hire at least 1,100 pilots every year, as passenger numbers increase.

If adopted, the bill will be in effect through 2018. The report didn't give any further details about the bill. The Transportation Ministry said earlier that it sought to have 200 foreign pilots taking jobs in Russia every year.

The board of directors of Tatarstan Airlines on Wednesday voted to oust the company's chief executive Aksan Giniyatullin following the recent crash of the company's jets, which killed 50 people.

A Boeing 737 en route from Moscow to Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, crashed while landing on Nov. 17.

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