Russia is trying to establish Crimea’s air communication with the outside world

Russia is trying to establish Crimea’s air communication with the outside world

Russian airlines are trying to expand their route map from Crimea. On July 19 Grozny-Avia airlines performed a Simferopol — Istanbul flight. This was the first international flight from the occupied Crimea aside from flights to Russia.

As a reminder, in March the State Aviation Service issued a note (notice on changes in the rules of conduct and support for flights — Ed.) informing that the Simferopol airport could not accept or dispatch aircrafts. «We, as the government agency that issued the airport its operating certificate, cannot guarantee safety of flights to this airfield,» explained the Chairman of the State Aviation Service Denys Antonyuk. Russian airlines ignored the ban and sizably increased the number of flights to Crimea this year. According to a special website, in July last year this airport received an average of 110 flights a week from Russia, in July 2014 the number exceeds 310.

Flight plans

Aircraft of Grozny-Avia airline made a technical landing in the Russian city Anapa and then took off for Turkey.
In such a manner the airline received Turkey’s permission for the flight and bypassed the Ukrainian ban. «The flight did not land in Anapa on its way back having the permission of Russian dispatchers,» says General Director of Windrose airline Volodymyr Kamenchuk.

According to the online display at the Simferopol airport the Grozny-Avia airline plans daily flights of a Yak-42 from Simferopol to the Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (Istanbul, Turkey) from July 15 till September 30, 2014.
But Russians are not the only ones who will fly between Crimea and Turkey. The same schedule has Simferopol — Istanbul flights, which will be performed by the Turkish Pegasus Airlines starting from August 1. Yet on the carrier’s website the information is different: flights are planned for October 1 — October 24, 2014.

There must be an answer

There are no prospects for direct international flights between the occupied Crimea and Turkey, believes aviation market expert Vyacheslav Konovalov. He says Eurocontrol, which approves all flight plans over the territory of its member countries, will not agree to violation of the ban. «The emergency flights are the only exception in this case,» he said.

Under the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, the states undertake to draw into account all those liable for violation of the convention, flight rules and regulations, says senior lawyer at the Marchenko Danevych law firm Andriy Huk. «Seeing as the Grozny-Avia airline violated the ban on flights in Crimean airspace, Ukraine should appeal to Russia and Turkey regarding the identified violations,» he advises. In case they do not respond, Ukraine should contact the ICAO and Eurocontrol, says Huk.
Russia is not a member of Eurocontrol, so it would be difficult to apply direct sanctions against it for violation of the ban on flights to Crimea. But perhaps there is some additional mechanism of influence on Turkey, which is a member of Eurocontrol. «Regular flights between Turkey and Ukraine can be performed by airlines, which are controlled by these countries or their citizens. Since Grozny-Avia is not one of them, Ukraine is entitled to demand that Turkey would not allow flights of this carrier to Istanbul,» says lawyer Andriy Kozlov. Otherwise, in order to resolve the situation Ukraine could use diplomatic channels or arbitration.

There are more levers to influence the Turkish company. If Pegasus Airlines starts flying to Crimea, the State Aviation Service and Ukraerorukh may reject its flight plans to the mainland part of the country, which will mean that the airline will not be allowed to fly to Ukraine, with the exception of Crimea, concludes Huk.

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