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Russia denies attempt to block Iceland flights

The Russian Ministry of Transport has denied reports it tried to block use of Russian airspace for flights to Asia.

The Russian Ministry of Transport has denied reports that it has tried to block the flights of Icelandic carriers to Asia via Russian airspace, the news agency Interfax and RUAviation report.

This is in response to the Icelandic-language website writing that negotiations on transit above Russia have been in process since summer 2017 but no agreement has been reached.

The Icelandic side puts the failure of the talks down to the Russian authorities allegedly demanding payment from the airlines of $100 per passenger per one-way flight.

A source in Iceland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs quoted in the original report explained Russia’s behaviour by the fact that Iceland joined European sanctions against Russian officials and businessmen involved in joining Crimea to Russia and the war in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian transport ministry representative confirmed to Interfax that within the framework of consultations in September 2017, Icelandic airlines “noted their interest in starting flights to points in Southeast Asia”.

As a result, two Icelandic carriers were given the right to fly to Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, Hong Kong and Shanghai using the Trans-Siberian Route System (TSM) “on standard operating conditions”.

“Almost a year after the talks, Icelandic carriers have not applied for flights to these points, which indicates that Icelandic airlines are not interested in implementing the commercial rights granted, not about the unwillingness of the Russian side to confirm such flights,” the Russian source tells Interfax.

Another solution suggests that the carriers that are likely to want access through Russian airspace, Icelandair and WOW air, will find an alternative solution. As both are looking at flights to India, passengers could fly from there with partner airlines to other destinations in Asia, it says.

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