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Turkish Southwind Airlines denies allegations of links to Russia

Turkish carrier is preparing to file a claim with the relevant authorities in Europe in response to those who created this situation for company and right this wrong

ISTANBUL, April 1. /TASS/. Turkey’s Southwind Airlines, which is banned by the EU from flying in the eurozone, has denied accusations of having links with Russia and announced its intention to challenge the ban in European courts.

"We are preparing to file a claim with the relevant authorities in Europe in response to those who created this situation for our company and our passengers and right this wrong. Due to the long period of consideration for such claims, we are also making efforts to ensure that the relevant authorities in Turkey lift the ban in advance," the Turkish carrier said in a statement.

"In March, we submitted an application to the Finnish Civil Aviation Authority to launch flights to Helsinki. After that, Finland contacted the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) asking whether our company has any connections with Russia. In a letter, the DGCA said that there are no ties with Russia, that the company's capital is 100% owned by a Turkish citizen, that this person is not a citizen of any country other than Turkey, that all the managers are Turkish and that the company is registered in Turkey.

However, the Finnish authorities ignored this answer and without providing Turkey with any specific information or documents, turned to the EU Aviation Commission <...> and demanded a ban on the use of European airspace based on rumors that our company registered in Turkey has connections with the Russian Federation. The EU civil aviation authority also violated Turkey's sovereign rights with this decision. It made the decision without any evidence, justification or request for protection on an issue that Turkish officials say does not exist," Southwind Airlines said in a statement.


Politics behind the decision


"Following the statement from Finland, the European Commission ruled to impose a ban on our company using the airspace the day before the Easter holiday. Germany and Poland immediately complied with it, although it is not binding," Southwind Airlines said in a statement. The Turkish carrier also stressed that the decision, based on a publication in the German newspaper Bild, is purely political.

"Over Southwind Airlines’ existence, not a single violation of the rules established by the EU and the USA has been identified. We have not received a single warning on any issue; on the contrary, we are a company that has received high praise from the relevant agencies of Europe. Despite the ban, we are working to transport about 10,000 of our passengers by purchasing seats from other Turkish companies," Southwind Airlines added.

In late December 2023, the Bild newspaper wrote citing the Polish authorities that Russia had enlisted Southwind Airlines to transport illegal migrants through the territories of the Russian Federation and Belarus and create a migration crisis in Europe. The Turkish airline then said it would sue the newspaper.

Last week, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom refused to grant permission to Southwind Airlines to begin flights between eurozone countries. According to Traficom CEO Jarkko Saarimaki, the agency concluded that "the substantial ownership and effective control of Southwind Airlines was not in the hands of Turkish entities or individuals." As Traficom claimed, the airline was effectively controlled by Russian individuals.

The agency claims that in this regard, the airline's activities do not comply with the EU regulation on sanctions against Russia, and therefore operation is impossible.

Southwind Airlines was established in Turkey on April 15, 2022 to transport Russians to the country's resorts, the company is based in Antalya. In August last year, the airline made its first flight to Russia.