Jump to content

Airline Delays Start of Beijing Service Due to Russia Overflight Dispute


Recommended Posts

French privately-owned airline Aigle Azur said on Wednesday that it is postponing the start of regular service between Paris and Beijing until the first quarter of 2015 because Russian civil aviation authorities are refusing to allow its planes to fly through Russian airspace.

Aigle Azur, France's second-largest scheduled airline, after flag-carrier Air France-KLM had originally planned to start a thrice-weekly service to Beijing on June 28 using widebody planes leased from Aigle Azur's Chinese partner airline Hainan Airlines. The French airline is controlled by the GoFast Group, with China's HNA group owning 48%.

France and Russia signed a bilateral agreement in 2001 for flights over southern Russia. The French authorities say the pact applies to aircraft operated by French airlines regardless of their venue of registration, while Russia insists that only French-registered planes can fly over its territory.

The EU Commission in Brussels acts on behalf of all EU-based airlines, but past bilateral agreements between individual EU states and Russia remain in force until a broader accord is hammered out. It wasn't immediately clear whether the EU would address the overflight issue.

To get around the Russian objections, Aigle Azur said it would take delivery of two French-registered Airbus A330-200 widebody planes from Dubai Aerospace Enterprises next December and January.

Diplomatic relations between France and Russia have cooled recently, following Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea, and the airline said it fears being caught in the middle of a geopolitical dispute should the situation deteriorate. "Aigle Azur cannot take the risk of being held hostage to a disagreement between the two countries at a time when bilateral relations are tense following the Ukrainian crisis," the airline's chief executive officer Cedric Pastour said.

Mr. Pastour also complained about the lack of progress in talks between the European Union and Russia concerning flights over Siberia, saying the situation "creates an obvious distortion of competition."

The EU and Russia have long argued over Siberia overflight charges that a French civil aviation official characterized as exorbitant. After years of largely fruitless talks, an accord was signed in late 2011 in which Russia agreed to limit overflight charges to actual costs, as part of its process for accession to the World Trade Organization.

The implementation of that agreement, however, ran into problems when the EU unveiled its plan to apply a carbon tax on non-European airlines flying through European airspace as part of its emissions trading scheme.

Russia has consistently balked at implementing the agreement, and the geopolitical situation in Ukraine and Crimea has caused the Kremlin to harden its stance, the French aviation official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

Saiba os termos, regras e políticas de privacidade