Russian has changed air passages for Tajik airlines – Tajik Air and Somon Air -- operating flights to Russia.

The Tajik civil aviation authorities were reportedly notified of this decision of the Russian authorities on March 7 and the decision took effect on March 8.

The Main Center of the Single System of Organization of Air Traffic of the Russian Federation has justified its decision to change the air passages as resulting from overload of the air routes.  

Changes have affected all air routes connecting Tajik cities and the Russian cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Surgut, Samara, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Kazan and Orenburg.

“The new air passages, for example, extend the time of the flight from Dushanbe to Moscow by one hour and the time of the flight from Dushanbe to St. Petersburg by 40 minutes that leads to increase in fuel consumption,” an official source at the Tajik civil aviation authorities told Asia-Plus in an interview.

“Meanwhile, the Russian airlines are continuing to use the previous air routes to operate flights to Tajikistan that puts Tajik air carriers at a disadvantage,” the source added.   

Recall, there is a dispute between Tajik and Russian civil aviation authorities over Ural Airlines flights to Tajikistan.

Russia’s Ministry of Transport says Ural Airlines was forced to suspend flights to Tajikistan on March 12 as the Tajik side has not issued permit allowing Ural Airlines to operate flights to the Tajik cities of Dushanbe (from Perm), Khujand (from Krasnodar) and Kulob (from Zhukovsky International Airport).     

The Russian Ministry of Transport calls on the Transport Ministry of Tajikistan to observe obligations it accepted in the framework of international agreements.  

The Russian civil aviation authorities are reportedly ready to begin negotiations in Moscow on March 22 or 23, 2018.

If the Tajik aviation authorities do not approve the program of flights by Ural Airlines on the mentioned air routes, the Russian side reserves the right to introduce retaliatory “mirror” measures against Tajik air carrier, says the statement released by the Russian Ministry of Transport.    

Tajikistan at the end of last week asked Russia for postponing negotiations over Ural Airlines flights to Tajikistan until late March. 

“Tajik civil aviation authorities reportedly are ready for negotiations over Ural Airlines flights to Tajikistan but proposed to postpone them until the late March,” an official source at the Ministry of Transport of Tajikistan told Asia-Plus Friday afternoon.

On the situation with Ural Airlines flights to Tajikistan, he noted that the Russian air carrier does not have permit to operate flight from the mentioned Russian cities to Tajikistan.

“These flights violate parity conditions between Tajikistan and the Russian Federations as Tajik airlines do not operate flights to these cities,” the source added. 

The history of disputes between the Tajik and Russian civil aviation authorities dates back to early November 2016.  The two countries faced the threat of suspension of flights in early November because of a dispute between Moscow and Dushanbe over the status of Russia’s Zhukovsky International Airport, which was officially opened in May 2016.

Dushanbe called for a revision of existing bilateral agreements on mutual air flights, saying that Zhukovsky is Moscow’s fourth international airport and that it has increased the number of flights from Moscow to Tajikistan.

The Russian civil aviation authorities insisted that Zhukovsky International Airport is not under Moscow’s authority but of the town of Ramenskoye.

Tajikistan that time agreed only to flights for Ural Airlines and Tajik Air from Zhukovsky Airport.