May / June, 2023


Georgian Airways has revealed plans to offer Russians transit flights to Europe via Tbilisi. The airline’s founder, Tamaz Gaiashvili, announced that the company would operate the flights on routes to five European cities: Paris, Milan, Vienna, Larnaca and Thessaloniki. The resumption of flights between Russia and Georgia continues to have widespread political repercussions, with the US State Department warning that companies working at Georgian airports could face sanctions if found to be servicing Russia-bound flights. In Europe, the European Union’s 27 member states have formally complained to the Georgian government over renewed air communications with Russia, stressing that Georgia’s latest move directly undermines actions undertaken by the EU in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Amidst internal governmental conflicts regarding the latest situation, President Salome Zourabichvili has proposed restrictions for Russian citizens arriving in the country in a bid to realign the country’s geopolitical outlook with European Union, so as to strengthen ties with the West.

Representatives of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport have made a proposal to the Ministry of Transport to allow Chinese airlines to operate fifth freedom flights between Europe and China via Moscow, re-establishing direct air travel between the capital and the rest of Europe. A purported Aeroflot source has also claimed that the move would be subject to Chinese authorities granting similar fifth freedom privileges to Russian carriers looking to develop their route networks to so-called ‘friendly’ countries in Asia. Meanwhile, it has been reported that Chinese carriers will now avoid Russian airspace on new flights to the United States following American complaints of a competitive edge in favour of airlines not observing sanctions. The flights in question include routes from Beijing to New York and Shanghai to Los Angeles.

Several airlines have reported issues relating to newly installed domestically manufactured navigation software on the Sukhoi SuperJet. The newly installed software, which has been described as ‘analogue’, replaces the previously used system from French manufacturer Thales. Several instances of malfunctioning or inaccuracies have been reported, though officials are keen to note that any potential navigation issues are unlikely to have an impact on flight safety.

Following repeated delays, Rostec has announced that it now expects serial production of the SSJ New variant to commence in 2024. Concern has been growing amidst continued delays, with many commentators holding Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov personally responsible for the setbacks, with claims of mass deception regarding the new aircraft’s production. Elsewhere, recent instances of drone-related attacks across Russia have caused alarm at the country’s airports, who feel that they do not have the means to protect themselves given a lack of regulations in place to do so.

JAM news – Companies at airports in Georgia could be sanctioned – US State Department (Russian)
Unian – Controversial Georgian airline launches transit flights to Europe for Russians (Russian)

Moscow Times – Georgian president calls for restrictions on emigrating Russians (Russian)
ch-aviation – EU complains to Georgia over Russia flight resumption (English)
AEX – Sheremetyevo proposes allowing Chinese carriers to use Moscow for transit flights (Russian)
Nastoyashchee Vremya – Chinese airlines to avoid Russia with new routes (Russian)

Moscow Times – SSJ 100 facing problems with replacement navigation system (Russian)
FlightGlobal – Russia’s SSJ-New edges towards serial production (English)
Sibkraj – Manturov deceives again: the SSJ delivery plan has been disrupted (Russian)
Unian – We are vulnerable: Russian airports fear drones (Russian)

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