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Kiev’s ban on flights by Russian air carriers backfires on Ukrainian passengers

October 01, 2015, 19:13 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
Kiev Boryspil Airport

Kiev Boryspil Airport


MOSCOW, October 1. /TASS/. Kiev’s decision to prohibit two dozen Russian airlines from flying to and over Ukraine is a decision that will harm not so much Russian air carriers as their passengers — mostly Ukrainian, polled experts have told TASS.

The ban will be effective as of October 25, the Ukrainian authorities said. On President Petro Poroshenko’s sanction list there are such major Russian air carriers as Aeroflot, Transaero, Urals Airlines, Sibir and others — 25 all in all. So far there have been more than a hundred flights from Russia to Ukrainian airports every week despite the strained relations between Moscow and Kiev. Alongside Russian airlines three Ukrainian carriers — Ukrainian International Airlines, Dneproavia and Motor Sich — have been operating flights between Russian and Ukrainian airports. In retaliation, Moscow has come up with a symmetrical response: as of October 25 it is banning all inbound flights by Ukrainian air carriers, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov has said.

"According to Russian airlines, more than 70% of passengers on all flights between the two countries are Ukrainians. Kiev’s decision to ban some Russian airlines from Ukrainian airspace will have a backlash effect. Those who made it should have known better," the deputy director of the CIS Studies Institute, Vladimir Zharikhin, told TASS.

He believes that Ukraine’s latest demarche stems from the fact that Ukraine has dropped out from the main agenda of the United States, the European Union and Russia. "At the 70th session of the UN General Assembly Petro Poroshenko was literally waiting for the moment US President Barack Obama would be passing by in the corridor, but he failed to be granted an audience. The leaders of Germany and France have been stepping up pressures on Ukraine, demanding compliance with the Minsk Accords. This explains why Kiev is so nervous and been trying to draw more attention by banning Russian planes from Ukraine, which may harm transit flights by European air carriers, too," Zharikhin believes.

"The severing of air links between Ukraine and Russia may disrupt interaction by the two countries’ air traffic controllers. Then Moscow will be able to refuse to accommodate European flights crossing Ukraine for security reasons. Passenger flights will have to bypass Ukraine via Turkey or Belarus, and this will make flights longer and more costly. In other words, Kiev’s sanctions against Moscow will not only cause multi-million losses to Ukraine and Russia, but also endanger the interests of European air carriers and passengers," Zharikhin said.

The leading research fellow of the Gaidar Economic Policies Institute, Kirill Rogov, believes that Kiev’s decision to ban Russian airlines from flying to Ukraine is not an economic measure, but a purely political one. "Any war is fraught with negative economic effects. Everybody will suffer from Ukraine’s demarche and Russia’s countermeasures. Nobody will stand to gain," Rogov told TASS.

The director of the Globalization Problems Institute, Mikhail Delyagin, has described the forthcoming cancellation of flights by Russian air carriers to Ukraine as "nasty."

"Russian air carriers were operating many low-cost flights, affordable to those in the low income brackets. Now they will have to brace for flying from Russia to Ukraine and back via the Baltic countries or Belarus at far higher prices. Business people there are already rubbing their hands in delight," Delyagin told TASS.

"The alternative option is travelling to Russia from Ukraine by train. But amid the lasting tensions in the southeast of the country this route is rather risky. Passengers will most probably prefer to use the services of the few Russian air carriers unaffected by Ukraine’s sanctions.

"The Ukrainian authorities have eliminated a very profitable business, because they lack economic mentality. Russophobia is the current Ukrainian authorities’ basic value and sole obsession. Everything else is sacrificed to that emotion," Delyagin said.

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