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Swiss planes banned from Russian airspace

Swiss International Air Lines has lost the rights to enter Russian airspace. No reason is known, but negotiations are continuing.

This content was published on May 30, 2010 - 16:17

A spokesman for the airline confirmed a report in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper that Swiss hasn’t been able to fly through Russia since the introduction of the summer flight plan in March.

Flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong have been affected. They now have to fly around southern Russia, resulting in longer journeys and the need for more fuel.

Jean-Claude Donzel, Swiss spokesman, did not want to comment on reasons for the Russian decision. He did not deny however the possibility that Russia was after higher taxes.

The NZZ am Sonntag speculated that Russia might be looking to gain greater access to Western Europe for its own planes. It also said the Swiss finance ministry’s decision in January to fine Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg’s holding firm Renova SFr40 million ($34.5 million) could have played a role.

Swiss’s parent company Lufthansa is no stranger to Russian power games. In November 2007 Lufthansa Cargo lost the rights to enter Russian airspace. That stand-off came to an end when the tanking stop for planes heading to south Asia was changed from the Kazakh capital Astana to Krasnoyarsk in Siberia.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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