Routes between Scandinavia and China will be strongly affected if Russia chooses to ban EU flights over Siberia. According to Financial Times signs has emerged that a ban on western airlines using Russian airspace is on the drawing board as an answer to recent sanctions.
A quick look at Finnairs Asian routes reveals that a ban on using Russian airspace will end in longer journeys. The situation brings back memories from the 1980’s where Finnair added extra fuels tanks to their DC-10’s in order to fly around soviet airspace and become the first European airline with a nonstop route to Tokyo.
Apart from a longer journey, extra fuel expenses might hit airlines hard. According to Bloomberg the Finnair share dropped 5,6% on Tuesday, the day a Russian newspaper reported that the Russian government might limit or ban trans-Siberian flights.
Experts suspect Russia of bluffing
Since Russia is earning big money on fees from airlines overflying their airspace, some experts do not believe that Russia will go through with the ban. The fees are paid to Aeroflot and according to Financial Times the national Russian carrier earned 300 million USD in fees from European airlines last year.
Barclays analyst in London, Oliver Sleath told Bloomberg that Russian flights crossing EU airspace outnumber the European carriers’ trips over Siberia.
“This is extremely unlikely to happen because the response would be more crippling to the Russian economy,” Oliver Sleath said.