MOSCOW, August 5 (RIA Novosti) – Russian lawmakers consider limiting or even banning transit flights for European airlines from Europe to Asia over Russian territory, Vedomosti newspaper reported Tuesday citing a high-ranking government official.
According to the source, the discussion about possible limitation of transit for European airlines began soon after the first round of sanctions against Russia was imposed by the EU. The issue became more pending after the suspension of flights by Russia’s Dobrolet airline.
The source noted that relevant consultations are currently being held both in Russian Ministry of Transportation and in Foreign Ministry, but the final decision has to be approved by the government. A diplomatic official told the newspaper that “any unfriendly measures taken by the EU, including that concerning air transportation, will be considered and not left without the response.”
To fly to Asia European airlines presently use the shortest trans-Siberian route and pay for it to Russian Aeroflot. According to the source close to the company, Aeroflot receives less than $300 million annually from foreign airlines.
A subsidiary of state-owned Aeroflot airline, Dobrolet, launched its first commercial flights from the Russian capital to Crimea’s Simferopol in June. In July, the air company started selling tickets for flights to cities across Russia, including Volgograd, Perm, Samara, Ufa, Yekaterinburg and Kazan.
Dobrolet was included on the EU blacklist unveiled on July 30 among other Russian entities targeted by sanctions over their alleged role in the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis.
The EU said Dobrolet performed flights to Crimea, facilitating the former Ukrainian region’s integration with Russia.