Putin condemns transport chiefs


Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin has harshly reprimanded transport officials over a log-jam at Moscow airports (AP)

Russian transport bosses have been carpeted by prime minister Vladimir Putin and banned from taking new year holidays after freezing weather brought chaos to Moscow.

Icy rain covered runways and planes with a thick layer of ice over the weekend and caused a blackout at the capital’s largest airport, Domodedovo, which halted all flights for a day. It resumed operations on Monday, but a backlog of delayed flights left thousands stuck.

Dozens of flights have also been cancelled or delayed in the capital’s second-biggest airport, Sheremetyevo, where national carrier Aeroflot reported severe shortages of de-icing fluid.

Mr Putin said those in charge of operations at Moscow airport should “stop whining and start working”.

He also banned all cabinet ministers and regional governors from taking their holidays at new year, saying they must be easily reachable in case of blackouts and other problems caused by weather.

Airport authorities and airlines were slow to provide food and water to Russians who had been leaving for their holidays.

Traders ramped up food and drink prices at Domodedovo and gypsy cab drivers were offering rides back to Moscow for the equivalent of £230. Angry passengers complained about the lack of information about flight delays from airport authorities, and sporadic scuffles broke out.

Russian prosecutors have opened an investigation on charges of violation of passengers’ rights and summoned some airline officials for questioning.

Mr Putin criticised officials for allowing the log-jam, which he said left 8,000 passengers stranded at Domodedovo alone.

“You had zero information for the public,” he said. “What kind of work is that?”

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