RUSSIA is up to its old tricks of refusing overflight rights for European airlines, but this time the EU may be to blame.
Russia refused requests from Finnair and Lufthansa Cargo for additional overflights without giving a reason. However, it has recently protested at the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that has caused such controversy around the world, suggesting this is the source of the problem.
“The [European] Commission and Russia are in the process of talks over the ETS,” a Russian diplomat says.
The Commission denies the ETS is linked to the overflights row.
This is not an isolated incident. Earlier this year, Karl Ulrich Garnadt, chief executive officer of Lufthansa Cargo, confirmed that Russia had refused more requests for overflights.
In 2007, Russia suddenly revoked overflight rights for the airline in an attempt to get it to switch its main Europe-Asia hub airport from Astana (Kazakhstan) to Krasnoyarsk (Russia), which it then did in June 2009.
Air Cargo Germany also fell foul of Russia’s belligerent approach to international freedoms of the air, after a Russian U-turn to a previous agreement meant the German all-cargo carrier suddenly had to start flying a considerably less-profitable route. Russian cargo group Volga-Dnepr subsequently bought a 49 per cent stake in the carrier.