European Commission launched (27-Jan-2011) infringement procedures against several Member States and is actively assessing the compliance with EU law of the remaining Member States' bilateral aviation agreements with Russia. The Commission is concerned that these agreements may hinder competition, breach EU rules on freedom of establishment, and provide a basis for Siberian overflight charges which may be illegal. Some examples relating to the countries against which infringement proceedings have been launched and carriers operating from the following countries must pay the Siberian overflight charges for services operating to Asia:
EC flags infringements of bilateral agreements with Russia
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Airport pairs: Western Europe-US shows the value of open skies as routes and new entry proliferate
For Western Europe there is no bigger long haul market than North America. In terms of the number of airport pairs between the countries of Western Europe and long haul destination countries, connectivity to the United States dominates. There are more direct routes between Western Europe and the US than there are between Western Europe and the whole of Asia Pacific.
This report presents high level data on the numbers of airport pairs between each Western European country and the US and how these number have changed. EU-US liberalisation in 2008 has stimulated growth in the number of direct connections, although the global economic downturn impeded this for a while. However, the additional routes have not been spread evenly across Western European countries.
Since 2010, additional route numbers from Western Europe to the US have been greatest from the largest markets – the UK and the US – and from the smaller countries, particularly Ireland, Iceland and Norway. Countries in between, including France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, have hardly added any new US routes at all.
SAS' new foreign bases in London & Spain show rare innovative thinking for a legacy airline
On 01-Feb-2017 SAS announced that it is to establish a new AOC in Ireland, with operational bases in London and Spain. It has yet to specify the airports that will become its first bases outside its three Scandinavian home countries. SAS is following a course established by Norwegian, apparently forgetting its previous objections to its LCC rival's approach.
Indeed, it seems that SAS' move is a pragmatic response to intense competition from LCCs, particularly from Norwegian. According to SAS' 2016 Annual Report, 65% of its ASKs compete with LCCs. Scandinavia's high labour costs are a significant handicap in competing with airlines that have bases outside the region.
Spain and UK are its two biggest markets outside Scandinavia, with London Heathrow its biggest non home airport. After years of cost reduction programmes – also years of initiatives aimed at enhancing the appeal of SAS' product and brand to its core target market of Scandinavia's frequent flyers – a bolder step is needed. SAS will be a very rare example of a European legacy airline with bases outside its home market, more than 20 years after market liberalisation presented the opportunity.