European planes won’t be back in Russian airspace until Russia loses the war, says a senior EU official

A senior EU official said a reopening of Russian airspace to European planes could only happen if Russia lost the war in Ukraine.

In February, Russia hit back at EU sanctions after its invasion of Ukraine, banning EU airlines from Russian airspace.

Speaking at the Airline Economics conference in Dublin today, the Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate for Mobility and Transport, Henrik Hololei, said it was difficult to predict a possible reopening.

“We are in a great unknown and how long sanctions will be imposed on Russia is very difficult to say,” he said, noting a lack of clarity about “how this will evolve and how the attacker will evolve in the future.” be treated”.

Mr Hololei added that overflight fees, which have been required to be paid by European airlines using Russian airspace, “is one thing that needs to go away” when it reopens.

“We had the Siberian overflight payments, which the International Civil Aviation Organization says are illegal but were used nonetheless,” he said.

“I could not imagine that a reopening of Russian airspace could go on as usual,” he concluded.

International Air Transport Association director-general Willie Walsh also told the conference that banning short-haul flights in Europe “is not the answer” to reducing the aviation industry’s carbon emissions.

The former IAG and Aer Lingus chief said the debate around the environmental impact of flying needs to “get away from the emotion”.

“I think this is where the debate about the environmental performance of our industry needs to be based on facts and figures.”

He referred to a recent report by the air traffic control organization Eurocontrol.


Willie Walsh, Director General of the International Air Transport Association. Photo: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

“They did a fantastic research showing that if you stop every single flight in Europe less than 500km away you reduce the number of flights in Europe by 24 per cent but the CO2 from those flights only 3.8 per cent contributes CO2 [emissions],” he said.

Last month, France banned short-haul domestic flights between cities that can be reached by train in two and a half hours or less.

Mr Walsh called for the introduction of a “more efficient environment for air traffic control”, known as the Single European Sky, to reduce carbon emissions instead.

This EU initiative aims to increase the efficiency of air traffic management and navigation services by reducing “airspace fragmentation”.

Mr Walsh also highlighted the need for engagement between airlines and other industry players, such as aircraft lessors, to drive the adoption of sustainable jet fuel.

“We can’t have a situation where everyone else in the value chain says, ‘Well, it’s up to the airlines to pay more for the fuel,’ because that would be beyond the airlines’ financial capabilities,” he said.

After a summer of disruption, Mr Walsh added that the overall performance of international airports in 2022 was “appalling”.

“The bandits out there, those guys really pissed me off,” he said. “We’ve seen terrible delays at airports.” European planes won’t be back in Russian airspace until Russia loses the war, says a senior EU official

Fry Electronics Team

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