Norwegian flies into aviation dispute with Russia

CEO of Norwegian Airshuttle, Bjørn Kjos, says the issue will be solved within 24 hours if Norway refuses Russian airliners, like Transaero, to overfly Norway's airspace. This photo from Moscow Domodedovo airport. (Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer)
CEO of Norwegian Airshuttle, Bjørn Kjos, says the issue will be solved within 24 hours if Norway refuses Russian airliners, like Transaero, to overfly Norway’s airspace. This photo from Moscow Domodedovo airport.
(Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer)
CEO of Norwegian Air Shuttle, Bjørn Kjos, says Russian airliners should be denied to overfly Norwegian territory.

His Dreamliner is forced to fly around Russian territory on routes from Scandinavia to Bangkok.

Russia has disapproved Norwegian Air Shuttle application to fly across Russia on its direct route from Oslo to Thailand. The extra distance flying around Russian airspace costed Norwegian around NOK 100 million (€11,5 million) last year, Dagens Næringsliv reports. Every day, the aircrafts consume several tons more of fuel because of the extra distance.

“It is completely pointless,” says Bjørn Kjos.

Close Norwegian airspace to Russia: Kjos

On route from Oslo to Bangkok, the pilots have to fly south to Turkish airspace before turning east, instead of flying directly over the southern part of Russian airspace like other aircrafts en route from Scandinavia and destinations in Southeast-Asia. Norwegian’s flight therefore takes some 50 minutes extra and consume nearly 4,5 tons extra fuel.

Bjørn Kjos now asks the Norwegian government to close the airspace over Norway for Russian airliners if Russia doesn’t open the skies for Norwegian.

“I think that is the only languages the Russians understand, Kjos says to Dagens Næringsliv.

In January, Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) threatened Pskovavia that their winter schedule approval for the route Arkhangelsk to Tromsø via Murmansk would not be renewed for the summer program if Russian airspace was not opened for Norwegian Air Shuttle.

In the letter obtained by BarentsObserver, Norwegian CAA wrote:

“Approvals from the Norwegian CAA are given with a view to the general understanding that the Russian aviation authorities approve Norwegian’s and Scandinavian Airlines Systems’ applications in accordance with the ASA in force. However; Russian authorities disapproved an application from Norwegian to fly through Russian airspace for the IATA Summer program 2014. This is not in accordance with the ASAs in force. Continued disapproval from Russian aviation authorizes of applications from Norwegian carriers to overfly Russian territory may have consequences for the approval of future applications from Russian carriers.”

Letter text mistake

After BarentsObserver published an article referring to the letter, the Norwegian CAA said the text in the letter was based on a mistake, claiming it was supposed to be included in another letter and not the one addressed to Pskovavia.

Norwegian Air Shuttle is the third largest low-cost carrier in Europe. The company operates more than 100 aircrafts, including seven Boeing 787 Dreamliners used on intercontinental flights, including the direct routes from Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen to Bangkok.

Today, Norwegian has St. Petersburg as its only destination in Russia. Some years back, the airliner also had flights to Moscow Domodedovo airport.

Aeroflot is the only Russian airliner with routes to Norway, after Pskovavia paused its flights to Tromsø.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Captain ignored co-pilot’s warnings before plane crash in Canadian Arctic, CBC News

Finland: Finnair adding more flights to Lapland, Yle News

Greenland:  Air Greenland plans another summer of Iqaluit-Nuuk flights, CBC News

Iceland:  Flights to Iceland to start next March from Edmonton, Canada, CBC News

Norway: Air route links Norway, Sweden and Finland in Arctic, Barents Observer

Sweden: EU Sweden project may lead to ‘green’ flights at airports, Radio Sweden

Russia: Economic crisis hits airlines hard in Russia’s western Arctic, Barents Observer

United States: Tackling ‘frost boils’ on Alaska’s Arctic Highway, Alaska Dispatch

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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