Ukraine and Russia agreed on flights between the two countries at the last moment

Ukraine and Russia agreed on flights between the two countries at the last moment
Photo: Reuters

Air connections between Ukraine and Russia could have been suspended yesterday. Moscow did not open the skies for Ukrainian air carriers to perform flights between the two countries in the period of winter navigation almost until the very last moment, a top manager of one of the Ukrainian airlines told Capital. “The Federal Agency of Air Transport of Russia (Rosaviatsiya) issued the corresponding permits only last Friday afternoon,” he specified. The Ukrainian State Aviation Service reciprocated by automatically issuing permits for Russian airlines.

Rosaviatsiya confirmed that it issued permits for flights during the winter navigation period. However, Head of the Ukrainian State Aviation Service (USAS) Denys Antonyuk emphasized that the transit of Ukrainian airlines over Russian territory is still prohibited.

Russia’s warning sign

The issuing of flight permits was protracted due to the sanctions the USAS imposed on Russian airlines on flights to Crimea, says a top manager of one Ukrainian airline. Aeroflot suffered the most – as of July 29 the carrier was expected to pay a fine in the amount of UAH 14.6 mn, as Capital wrote earlier. Overall, 13 airlines were fined UAH 24.48 mn in total, the USAS told Capital. Currently, the lawsuits of Aeroflot against the USAS with a demand to cancel the fines are being considered by the Kyiv District Administrative Court. Capital was unable to find out from the USAS the exact amount of fines as of October 24.

A lucky escape

Rosaviatsiya’s obstinacy could have caused the suspension of issuing of permits by the USAS for Russian air carriers,” says expert of the airline market Yevhen Khainatskiy. This would have to be done in order to restore parity in the relations, he explains.

USAS and Rosaviatsiya, however, had no choice but to reach an agreement, assured the expert. The agencies would have issued temporary permits for charter flights until the problem was settled. “I do not think that this would have led to the suspension of flights. This would have dealt a serious blow to the industry,” he believes.

Air communication between the two countries is extremely critical for several reasons, notes expert of the airline industry Serhiy Khyzhnyak. “This is necessary to satisfy the demand of passengers for business trips, visiting relatives, etc., development of business and ensuring the operation of Ukrainian airports,” he emphasized. Wizz Air Ukraine and Ukraine International Airlines perform daily flights from Kyiv alone, transporting over a thousand passengers a day. In addition to that, transit passenger flows from or to Russia through the Boryspil International Airport would have suffered.

Last year around one million passengers or around 8-10% of the total passenger flow were transported on Kyiv – Moscow route. Suspension of flights would affect the earnings of Ukrainian airports, UkrAeroRukh and companies in related industries. “This would deal a serious blow to the domestic economy and would reach the level of an international conflict, not simply a quarrel between the two countries that failed to come to agreement,” concluded Khainatskiy.

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