The member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) have agreed to create a single open airspace over Armenia, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced in Astana on August 15 that the roadmap for the project is already in the works, Kommersant daily reports. The common airspace is to become fully operational by 2020, and restructuring activities will be gradually implemented starting from January 1, 2018.
Under the single airspace, the member states will harmonize their airport and air traffic management fees, and will waive all restrictions on the number of designated carriers and flight frequencies.
The initiative may turn out to be more challenging than anticipated. Russia’s attempts to liberalize air services with other individual CIS countries have not been very successful thus far due to certain reluctance on the part of national aviation authorities, particularly in Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, which are understood to be wishing to protect their carriers against possible Russian expansion.
Some progress was achieved with Armenia, Belarus, and especially with Ukraine before that country suspended all direct air services with Russia.
Russia’s practice to charge foreign airlines for using trans-Siberia routes also contradicts the common airspace concept.
The Russian air travel market constitutes up to 90% of the entire EAEU market. Industry experts speculate that implementing the common airspace concept could lead to reshuffling the existing market shares and even bankrupt smaller market players, as was the case when a similar initiative was introduced in Europe. The national authorities’ efforts to protect their carriers are therefore aimed at eliminating such risks, Kommersant notes.
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