European Commission announced plans to take legal action Russian aviation authorities in attempt to give EU airlines greater leverage over Russia in a dispute over airline overflight fees (The Financial Times, 27-Oct-2010). The EC stated it would launch infringement proceedings on 28-Oct-2010 with France, Germany, Austria and Finland due to suspicions that their bilateral agreements with Russia violate EU antitrust rules. The EC aims to force Russia to extend equal treatment to all European airlines. A major point of contention is an estimated USD420 million in annual fees that EU airlines pay Aeroflot for the right to operate over Siberia. Russia agreed in 2006 to eliminate overflight fees but no action has been taken.
European Commission: “The view of the European Commission is that air transport agreements must treat all EU airlines equally and respect antitrust rules. Otherwise some EU airlines can be treated less favourably than their direct competitors or face paying unreasonable additional charges which can get passed on to consumers.” Siim Kallas, Transport Commissioner. Source: The Financial Times, 27-Oct-2010