The aviation authorities of Russia and Italy have agreed on expanding air services between the two countries. Under the protocol signed in late May, three destinations in each of the two countries will be added to the existing 12, and frequencies on most of the routes will be significantly increased. The amendments are expected to provide the two countries’ designated carriers with greater planning flexibility.
Russia provisionally opted for Bari, Cagliari, and Olbia as the new destinations. Italy has not yet made a final decision. In fact, both parties can also choose a new destination to replace any of the existing ones for the exception of Rome, Milan, Venice, Moscow, and St. Petersburg.
The protocol reads that either country’s designated carriers may operate a total of 84 weekly flights on the Moscow-Rome and Moscow-Milan routes. On each of these routes, either country’s existing designated carrier is entitled to seven additional frequencies; seven more frequencies are to be operated by a newly assigned carrier.
On the remaining routes, the ultimate number of flights to be operated by each country’s designated carriers has been increased by 39 to 147. For the Russian carriers, the additional frequencies include flights to Bari, Cagliari, and Olbia from any airports in Russia (up to seven weekly flights on each route).
Five more weekly flights are available for flights from Zhukovsky (a new airport outside Moscow) to Rome, and from St. Petersburg to Rimini. Two weekly frequencies are being added on the routes from Yekaterinburg to Rimini, Verona, Venice, and Bolognia. The protocol specifies that the designated carriers are permitted to use any frequencies not utilized by their peers on the other side of the agreement.
The Russian officials also informed their Italian colleagues that they are ready to permit any Italian carriers, both passenger and cargo operators, to fly to Sochi, Vladivostok, and Kaliningrad under the fifth freedom of the air, which entitles an airline to carry passengers or freight from one foreign country to another while flying from or to its own country.
The offer will become available this summer, the only condition being that any Italian carriers that choose to use it do not fly trans-Siberian routes for such operations. The aforementioned three Russian airports are operating under the open skies regime.
Air travel between Russia and Italy was liberalized following the previous round of negotiations, held in July 2016. This time the parties agreed to meet for consultations in order to discuss a further increase in frequencies on regional routes.
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