Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Too dangerous to fly to Europe but fine to fly here?

Interesting thing caught my eye in Kommersant: the Russian Federal aviation agency, Rosaviatsia, and supervision watchdog, Rostransnadzor, has issued bans and restrictions on a whole bunch of Russian airlines (or planes within their fleets) from flying into EU airspace.

These include Russia’s 4th largest airline, UTair (whose plane tragically crashed in Samara earlier this year); as well as KrasAir’s Tu-134 fleet. KrasAir is not only the 6th largest airline in Russia; it is also, through AirUnion, the proud new owner of Malev, Hungary’s flag-carrier.

The Russian self-imposed bans come ahead of the usual quarterly update on the ‘no fly’ list issued by the EU. Last time, while no Russkie airlines were banned, a number were warned they were jolly close to it. It provoked a furious reaction from the Russian authorities (which then lamely started to fantasize about poor flying skills of EU pilots in Russian airspace). They abandoned this stance when UTair 471 slammed into the ground just 48 hours later…

My point though is this. While I recognize that being declared ‘unsafe’ by the EU is not the same as being ‘dangerous’ per se; why does Russia preemptively agree with the EU that these airlines or planes are not fit for international airspace, but allow them still to fly in Russia?

As we enter the busiest season for Russian aviation, some planes – including those banned from EU airspace and their carriers – will be put on extra routes or these airlines will use older planes not regularly used, to cope with passenger numbers and holiday charters.

Fingers crossed everyone…

PS: read Arseniy Rastorguev, on that BBC Russian-alcohol-storm thing yesterday which I think nicely captures the frustration of Russia's 'bright young things' about what the West says about them, coupled with a certain sense of gloom, nonetheless, about their own country.

No comments: