Next week Russia may unilaterally stop flights to Tajikistan. This is due to the reluctance of Dushanbe to agree on the Russian airlines flying to the country from the new airport Zhukovsky. In Tajikistan believe that the airport belongs to Moscow and for access to flight Dushanbe it is necessary to revise the intergovernmental agreement. But now the lines are only Tajik airlines, so the Russian side speaks about infringement of the rights of domestic players.
Air communication between Russia and Tajikistan may be suspended on 8 November, said the publication “Kommersant” sources in the industry confirmed by the Ministry of transport. Such a decision would be a response to the failure of the Tajik authorities to agree use on flights of Russian airlines from the new airport Zhukovskiy, explained one of the interlocutors “Kommersant”. According to the Tajik side, he says, Zhukovsky became the fourth full airport of the Moscow aviation hub, therefore an additional purpose of airlines for flights to Dushanbe and Khujand is a unilateral increase in Russia the number of carriers and flight frequencies on these lines. On this basis, the Tajik authorities refused to accept the appointment of a Russian carrier.
Airport in Zhukovsky earned at the end of may 2016, and its development is engaged in “Ramport Aero” SP structure “Rostec” (25%) and Lithuanian holding Avia Solutions Group (75% minus one share). In August, the Federal air transport Agency has issued permits for international flights from Zhukovsky “the Ural airlines”, “VIM airlines” and “Yamal”. Appointment to city of Tajikistan — Dushanbe and Khujand — received “Ural airlines”, the Russian foreign Ministry informed the Embassy of Tajikistan in late August.
In a press-service of Ministry of transport “b” explained that, by order of the government, to Moscow include international Federal airports Vnukovo, Domodedovo, and Sheremetyevo international airport Zhukovskiy related to Ramenskoye. Therefore, “the attempt of the Tajik party to determine the status of a Russian airport violates the sovereignty of the authorities of the Russian Federation on its territory,” and their refusal to accept the appointment of the Russian carrier to the air line from Zhukovsky “is in direct violation” of an intergovernmental agreement on air communication.
The Ministry of transport said that the aviation authorities of Tajikistan should take into account that the main passengers on these routes — “Tajik labor migrants, providing by the Russian Federation to 48% of Tajikistan’s GDP”. If the position of Tajik authorities have not been changed, the suspension of air traffic from the Russian Federation will enter into force, “not to admit infringement of the rights” of Russian airlines, told “Kommersant” in the Ministry of transport.
Meanwhile, Tajik authorities plan to discuss the flights with Russian colleagues on 24 November — this is with reference to the head of Department of civil aviation Ministry of transport of Tajikistan Rakhmonov Mahmadyusuf said the Agency “Asia-Plus”.
According to the employee of the Ministry of transport of Tajikistan, earlier the Ministry received a letter the Russian side on the issue of flights from the new airport Zhukovsky. “After learning of the letter, we replied to the Russian side that in the current environment new flights from a specified airport are unprofitable”.
According to “Asia-Plus”, “the Tajik side considers that the airport Zhukovsky recently built and is not functioning at 100%. Thus, airlines will incur losses due to the small number of passengers”.
The cost of flights on the route Moscow – Dushanbe, employing only airline of Tajikistan (Somon Air and Tajik Air), grew by 32% in comparison with 2015. At the end of November the minimum price for a direct flight is 28 thousand on both sides. Passenger load factor on the route has increased by 8% and total passenger traffic by 41%. In other cities of Tajikistan — Kulyab and Khujand — Moscow fly Russian S7 Airlines and “Ural airlines”. In the “Ural airlines”, the Ministry of transport of Tajikistan, Somon Air and Tajik Air on request “b” did not answer.
This is not the first conflict of the Russian aviation authorities with the leadership of the CIS this year. In March, Moscow has refused to allow Kazakhstan’s Air Astana to fly free of charge on TRANS-Siberian route at Ulan Bator, on the grounds that foreign companies are transferring RF (royalty) payments for flights over Siberia. In response, the government of Kazakhstan threatened to stop Aeroflot flights into the country. Bilateral negotiations have brought no results. And, according to “Kommersant”, Moscow’s plans to liberalise air traffic and introduce “open skies” within the Eurasian economic community, starting with Kazakhstan, support of the local authorities was never found.
Expert of the Public chamber of the Russian Federation on issues of civil aviation, Professor Boris Yeliseyev believes that given the disparate number of carriers in Russia and the CIS, “conflict in such matters is inevitable.” To soften the negotiating position of the CIS countries is difficult because the parties will seek to restrict competition, defending the interests of national carriers. A compromise approach would be the development of airport infrastructure, said the expert.