Medvedev considers no-fly sanctions

By Doug Newhouse |


Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (inset) says the government is seriously considering imposing no-fly restrictions over Russian air space on foreign airlines.

Medvedev kicked off a promised programme of Russian retaliation for western sanctions today by imposing a one-year total ban on the importation of several food products from Australia, Canada, Norway, the EU and the US. These banned foreign imports now include beef, cheese, fish, fruit, milk, pork, poultry meat and vegetables.

But he also made it clear that this may only be the start of planned retaliation measures. In a measured speech today reported on the Russian Government’s official website, he said: “The next thing I’d like to focus on is that we are also developing measures to retaliate against the EU sanctions against Dobrolyot for its service to Simferopol.

“As you all know, on 4 August our first low-cost carrier was forced to suspend operations as a result of these unfriendly acts. All of its European partners refused to meet their obligations to lease, provide maintenance or insurance for planes or to provide air navigation data.

“This has brought many problems to our people that we’ve had to deal with. In this context, the Russian Government is considering a series of responses. I’ll name them. This doesn’t mean they’ll be taken right away, but they are on the table.

 

 

Aeroflot was forced to suspend operations of its new low cost carrier because of western sanctions.

 

 

POSSIBLE AIR SPACE BAN?
“First, they include an airspace ban against European and US airlines that fly over our airspace to Eastern Asia, namely, the Asia-Pacific Region. This is a very tough measure indeed. Nevertheless, it should be mentioned.

“Second, we are considering changing the so-called Russian airspace entry and exit points for European scheduled and charter flights. This, of course, will affect transportation costs and fare prices for the Western carriers.

“Third, this country is ready to revise the rules of using the trans-Siberian routes, that is, to denounce the agreed upon modernisation principles of the existing system. This revision will apply in full to the EU countries. We will also discontinue talks with the US air authorities on the use of the trans-Siberian routes.

“Fourth, starting this winter, we may revoke the additional rights issued by the Russian air authorities beyond the previous agreements.

 

 

Russian tourists are known for their high spending and will sorely missed if this situation escalates and weakens the rouble yet further.

 

 

“I’d like to emphasise that all these measures are not being introduced yet, but otherwise can be implemented either separately or together. As a result, the expenses of Western airlines will grow significantly. I repeat, we are only considering these steps now, but the Government has already taken one specific decision”.

COMMENT: If Russia should decide to impose a no-fly zone over Siberia, this would add considerable costs for airlines flying between Europe and Asia that would have to circumnavigate much longer routes – up to four hours more for non-stop Europe-Japan/Korea – and use far more fuel than they do today.

It would also cost Russia several hundred million dollars in the lost overflight fees it receives – according to Russian business media source Vedomosti. The prospect of further sanctions against Russian carriers also remains a distinct tit-for-tat possibility.

Besides strongly reducing the number of high spending Russian overseas travellers, any ban on foreign airlines flying to or over Russian air space will also impact on the ability of foreign carriers to deliver foreign passengers to Russian airports, never mind the airport duty free shops.

Countries that could suffer very badly if Russian tourist arrivals – already hit by a weaker rouble -suddenly fall away, include Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Spain, Turkey and many others.

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