21 Mar 2022 18:04

Russia simplifies access for airlines to int'l flights

MOSCOW. March 21 (Interfax) - The Russian Transport Ministry's Interdepartmental Commission has approved rules to allow airlines to operate flights abroad, which will be valid while international air traffic is restricted.

The Federal Air Transport Agency or Rosaviatsia said that under the new rules, the commission can decide on the temporary transfer of permits from one carrier to another at extraordinary meetings on the basis either of a request by a carrier for a permit or non-fulfillment of flights under a permit for a week prior to a meeting.

In that event, carriers interested in having temporary access transferred to them should apply to Rosaviatsia. They must attach data about the aircraft on which transportation is planned to the application. Upon receipt of one application, admission is automatically transferred to the applicant. If there are several applications, a vote is taken.

The following criteria are taken into account during voting: the total number of aircraft in the fleet, including those registered in the Russian Federation and owned by Russian companies, the frequency of flights in January 2022, December and November 2021, and the number of domestic routes in operation. The number of warnings and prescriptions about outstanding violations of flight safety and transport security requirements will also be taken into account.

Applications are submitted to Rosaviatsia no later than seven days before a commission meeting. Applications for the transfer of the permit will not be considered if a carrier with a permit has started actual operations prior to the meeting.

A temporary permit is issued for three months with the possibility of automatic extension, subject to the performance of flights and the absence of a decision to lift restrictive measures "imposed by foreign states for political motives," Rosaviatsia said. In this case, if flights are not performed under a temporary permit within three weeks of its receipt, the permit is canceled and can be transferred to other airlines.

The rules were devised "in order to increase the transport accessibility and mobility of the Russian Federation, as well as to preserve the 'air corridors' between Russia and foreign countries during the period of restrictions," Rosaviatsia said.

The Transport Commission previously distributed flight permits at regular meetings. The voting criteria were: whether the carrier has an international safety certificate, the use of 'modern domestically built aircraft,' flights in the Far East, flight safety assessment, the percentage of flights without delays for the previous month, the percentage of use of the airline's permits and quality of service.

Flight restrictions

The European Union, Britain, Canada and the United States closed their airspace to Russian carriers after the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine. The EU on February 26 imposed sanctions that banned the supply of civil aircraft and spare parts to Russia as well as their maintenance and insurance, and obliged lessors to terminate existing contracts with Russian carriers by the end of March.

Most airlines received notices to withdraw "sanctioned" aircraft, but continued to operate them. This was followed by mass seizures of aircraft equipment abroad, after which Rosaviatsia recommended that carriers suspend international flights. The restrictions do not affect Russian-registered aircraft, for example the Superjet 100, or a few foreign aircraft owned by airlines.

Rosaviatsia said that as of last Thursday, only six Russian carriers continued to operate flights abroad: to Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, the United Arab Emirates, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan. The combined frequency of their flights was about 250 per week. For flights abroad, 147 Superjets were used, among others. Flights to Russia were also operated by 29 airlines from Algeria, Armenia, Bahrain, Belarus, Venezuela, Israel, India, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Mongolia, the UAE, Serbia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.