Russia warns it may close airspace to Western airlines

Russia warns it may close airspace to Western airlinesRussian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned Monday that Russia may close its airspace to flyovers by Western airlines if the European Union imposes the sanctions that were agreed upon by EU ministers during a side meeting at last weeks NATO summit in Wales.

The sanctions are expected to be implemented “in the next few days,” according to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

“We could impose transport restrictions,” said Medvedev. “We believe we have friendly relations with our partners, and foreign airlines of friendly countries are permitted to fly over Russia. However, we’ll have to respond to any restrictions imposed on us.”

Shutting down air corridors would be an expensive blow to Western airlines that regularly traverse the world’s largest country on flights between Europe and Asia. Airlines who decide, or are forced to, fly a different route will incur a heavier expense because they would consume more fuel than they would if they fly over Russia.

According to most of the flyovers over Russian airspace are by European and U.S. airlines. However, Russia collects royalty from these airlines who flyover its airspace and such a restriction would only cause Russia to punish themselves by losing royalty revenue from Western airlines.

Russia has already imposed a ban on foods imported from Europe and the United States. Medvedev said, despite these sanctions, the Kremlin will continue its fiscal policy which includes inflation targeting by the central bank and further integration into the world economy.

What is your take on the situation? Do you think that Russia has the “balls” to restrict EU and US airlines from flying over its airspace?

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