Vladimir Putin increases airline charges for using Russian airspace by five percent as he scrambles to raise hundreds millions more dollars to fund the war against Ukraine.
In recent weeks, the Kremlin approved a 20pc increase in fees for airlines that are allies of Russia and neutral nations. This was done to compensate for the loss of revenue from Western carriers who were forced to detour due sanctions.
Ukrainian aviation officials have begun laying the foundations for reopening parts of the war-torn nation’s airspace in the next 18 months, regardless of whether the war continues.
Analysts are closely watching any market reactions in Russia following the weekend’s failed mutiny. The troops led by Yevgeny Prgozhin came within hours of Moscow, but turned back after an agreement was reached.
As part of security measures in Moscow, Monday was declared a holiday. The stock exchange however will remain open as usual.
Before the war, the Kremlin made a lot of money by charging airlines overflight fees. The country was an important flight route between east and west, which generated $1.7bn each year.
Since Mr Putin’s forces attacked Ukraine 16 months ago and the Western sanctions were imposed, many airlines are forced to avoid Russian airspace, which adds hours to their travel time.
According to senior industry sources, Mr Putin was forced to increase the amount charged by airlines who continue to fly in Russian airspace as compensation for this loss of money.
Aviation sources in Ukraine said that it is possible for the airport of the eastern city Lviv to be the first one to reopen, providing a bridge to the West and people traveling there. The Ukraine Recovery Conference held in London last weekend was a forum for discussion.
One of the most controversial issues in aviation is whether or not to fly over Russia.
All Chinese airlines are backed by their government and use Russian airspace to fly from China to Europe or the UK. These flights were not significant until recent times, as China’s border slowly reopened following President Xi’s zero-Covid policy reversal.
The boss of Air India defended the decision to fly over Russia earlier this year by comparing it to the UK’s allowing Russian oligarchs the opportunity to purchase vast tracts in London.
Turkish Airlines, Emirates Etihad, Qatar Airways and Qatar Airways all use Russian airspace. Some continue to fly to Russian destination.
Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, which owns a 25% stake in British Airways’ owner IAG, said, “It is a very political question and I wouldn’t like to answer.”
Al Baker, who refused to comment on Russian overflights but attacked environmentalists for calling for more restrictions on flying, did not back down.
He told reporters at a press event held last week during the Paris Air Show: “Aviation does not cause CO2 emissions.”
“We support sustainable aviation growth. There are many more ships. More cars, more power plants. We are the main target of CO2 emissions.
“I would like to see the aviation industry… inform the public in the right way that aviation is not responsible for CO2 emissions.”
Al Baker stated that the aviation sector is responsible for only 2.6pc (or 2,6 percent) of all CO2 emissions around the globe.