Russia, Ukraine agree to liberalize strategic routes

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Published: December 15, 2011

Russia and Ukraine will remove restrictions for the number of carriers and number of flights on the Moscow (DME)-Odessa (ODS) route, effective with the 2012 summer schedule. Currently, only two designated carriers—Transaero (UN) and AeroSvit (VV) are allowed to fly between these cities. Aeroflot (SU) is a VV marketing partner on this route.

The new rules will weaken UN’s position on the DME-ODS route as more carriers are allowed to fly to ODS, the third biggest city in Ukraine. There is a high demand for ODS service but the limited number of carriers keeps fares high.

The restrictions imposed by bilateral agreements between Russia and other countries have been widely criticized by most Russian carriers, which claim free access of international routes is restricted as SU and UN dominate most routes.

UN deputy CEO Dmitry Stolyarov said the carrier welcomes further liberalization on international routes but it is not clear why Russian authorities began with the DME-ODS route instead of, for example, DME-Paris, where only SkyTeam members SU and Air France are allowed to fly.

UN tried to get approval for charter flights from DMO to Rome and Milan Malpensa but Russian aviation authorities withdrew permission (ATW Daily News, Dec. 2).

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