Moscow (dpa) – After the confusion over some unapproved flights from the EU, Russia wants to continue to allow connections to Moscow.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov spoke on Friday about “technical problems” following an EU recommendation to avoid the airspace over the former Soviet republic after the emergency landing of a European passenger plane in Belarus. “The aviation authorities are working hard these days to get rid of them.” The case has been making international headlines since the beginning of the week.
Aviation authority Rosaviazija says that the approval of other routes is currently taking longer due to a lot of inquiries. However, within 24 hours, a total of 53 aircraft could have approached Russia on new routes. Earlier, EU foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell had said he was not sure whether these were individual cases or a general new scheme by Russian authorities to force European planes to fly over Belarus.
The Russian authorities had stated that some of the affected connections were special connections. Germany, which had resumed regular air traffic with Russia, was not affected by the problems.
Following the emergency landing of a Ryanair plane and the arrest of government critic Roman Protassevich, the European Union has imposed a new package of sanctions on Belarus. In addition, airlines based in the EU have been asked to avoid the airspace there.
As a result, Russia occasionally refused alternative routes to Moscow to European airlines. According to the French airline Air France, a flight from Paris had to be canceled on Friday – just like Wednesday. Air France stated that the flight had to be canceled due to a “new permission from the Russian authorities to enter their territory”. Lufthansa subsidiary Austrian Airlines also had to cancel a flight. On Friday she was able to fly from Vienna to Moscow again.
“The situation is indeed extraordinary,” Kremlin spokesman Peskov said, according to Interfax news agency. But it is a purely technical process. The French pilots’ union SNPL had previously complained that such requests would normally be accepted immediately. The Moscow daily “Kommersant” reported that flight cancellations had also caused confusion among Russian airlines.
In Sochi on the Black Sea, Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko meets Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. Another topic is the consequences of the EU and US sanctions that are putting Belarus in economic difficulties. Minsk is already indebted to Moscow by billions. Despite this, Putin had recently repeatedly emphasized that he would continue to support Lukashenko. Belarus is economically dependent on the Russian drip. It is the third meeting of the two politicians this year.