EU-Russia Aviation Summit

Air transport between EU and Russia is a very important as it increases year by year. Over the past five years the increase is +9% per year for passenger traffic. Growth rates for 2010 are particularly impressive, both for passengers (+22%) and even more so for freight (+43%).As a result, the European Commission and the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation decided to organize jointly an EU-Russia Aviation Summit in St. Petersburg on 12 and 13 October 2011. Furthermore, there are many issues to be discussed and clarified concerning the policy framework for the development of EU-Russia aviation relations and market prospects, the aviation safety and security policies and the co-operation between the two territories, the policy for ensuring sustainable air transport, the air traffic management and the new technologies, where both the EU and the Russia Federation haw many to show, the business opportunities in the aeronautical industry, and finally, the airport policy and the development of airport infrastructure.

The aim is to normalizing aviation relations and practices between the EU and Russia, but it seems to be a very slow procedure. Both parties had agreed in 2006 to a joint Action Plan, which should have led to liberalization of market access, enhanced cooperation on safety and security as well as infrastructure modernization. Its implementation was subject to Russia eliminating abusive unilateral taxes levied on foreign airlines for Siberian over-flights. However, the inability of Russia to deliver on its commitment to do so has since prevented progress.

Addressing the Summit, Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI Europe commented “Not only has the Siberian over-flight issue not been resolved, but red tape and unnecessary restrictions on aviation have actually increased in Russia. The latest example is the imposition of border control measures at airports for crews of foreign aircraft – which are in breach of well-established ICAO standards.”

ACI Europe has repeatedly called for the restrictive bilateral aviation agreements between Russia and individual EU Member States to be replaced by a single EU-Russia aviation agreement liberalising air traffic and doing away with any form of discrimination.

The present situation is at odds with each party’s relevance to the other in terms of trade – not to mention the dynamics of their aviation market. Passenger traffic between the EU and Russia has experienced a 45% growth over the last 5 years. With increased consumer spending in Russia driving up demand for outbound travel, the potential for further growth is considerable. Demand for air services between Russia and the EU is expected to triple by 2020.

Jankovec added “Russia is eager to extend its outreach and showcase global ambitions, as shown by its hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Yet, for the sake of vested interests, it is holding back the development of the industry that plays a major role in all that: aviation. A fully liberalised and non-discriminatory EU-Russia aviation regime would provide Russian airports with new business opportunities and facilitate their modernization. It would unlock their potential to foster economic development throughout the country.”

Also, Siim Kallas Vice-President EU and Commissioner for Transport in his speech with the topic “a way forward for more business growth and stronger cooperation” said that “The EU and Russia have so much to gain from closer cooperation in the aviation sector, both in relation to safety, industrial cooperation, air traffic management, sustainable growth and investment.I am confident that the EU–Russia aviation summit will mark a turning point in our aviation relations with Russia, which for too long have not been exploited to their full potential.”

The need for cooperation was also stressed by Mr Tony Tyler Director General and CEO of IATA (International Air Transport Association) who said that “protectionism and isolation are not lasting solutions. EU cooperation with Russia should be done for the sake of environment as it is a global problem that must be tackled globally. ”

On the other hand, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Transport of Russia Mr. Valery Okulov, on the occasion of his presidency of the panel “Prospects for the development of relations in civil aviation between the EU and Russia” addressed to the Russian panelists Mr Vitaliy Saveliev General Director, Aeroflot – Russian Airlines, Mr Àndrey Martirosov, General Director, “Utair Airlines”, Mr Sergey Skuratov, General Director, “Ural Airlines” as the victims as they have to pay according to his opinion very big amounts of money in order to fly over Europe, money that seems to more penalties than fees. However, Mr. Andrey Martirosov, general manager of Utair Airlines, said that when they started work his company faced many obstacles including many site inspections and rough regulations, but this was not viewed negatively. It works like motivation to his staff to pay attention to even the details on security issues. He also stressed the value of the liberalization of air transport in the development of tourism and aviation industry.

Mr. Geogiy Matveev from Section Safety Aeroflot stressed the need for a preventative safety management system and that the methodology currently exists needs improvement, thoughts came in response to the assertion of Mr. Evgeney Shaposhnikov, President , Partnership “Aviation Safety”, Advisor General Director “Sykhoy company”, who more or less claimed that the human factor and especially the crew is the main cause of accidents, at least admitting that the safety management should involve the whole hierarchy by the crew until the minister.

The importance of the aviation sector between EU and Russia was also stressed in Mr Kallas speech by saying that “The EU is by far Russia’s largest international aviation market. More than 40% of all Russian passenger traffic is directed towards EU destinations. Although Russia accounts for a far smaller share of EU international air traffic to non-EU destinations now, it has the potential to become our second most important air transport market after the United States.”
Mr Matthias Ruete, Director-General for Mobility and Transport, European
Commission, in his speech analyses the EU’s Single Aviation Market said that it is the world’s largest and most successful example of regional market integration and liberalization in air transport. The debate between EU representatives and the Russian ones continues with Mr Patrick Ky, Executive Director, SESAR Joint Undertaking who demonstrates the system SESAR saying that its goals are to enable EU skies to handle three times more traffic, improve safety by a factor of 10, reduce the environmental impact per flight by 10%, and cut ATM (Air Traffic Management) cost by 50%.

As a conclusion we can use the message passed from Mr Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO, International Air Transport Association (IATA) who said that “The most meaningful conclusion that can come from this summit is to re-emphasize the importance of Russian and European leadership in the development of aviation based on global standards. My message to you is that the industry—through IATA—is a ready partner that is here to help.” Also, notable was the suggestion for further development of cooperation especially in the field of aviation security made by Mr Vladimir Chertok, Deputy Head of Federal Authority for Oversight of Transport in Russia. He proposed to reach higher level of compatibility between technical regulations and standards between EU and Russia in the field of aviation security, to improve the Air Service Agreements in accordance with ICAO, to follow recommended practices with regard to aviation security, and to develop agreements on joint aviation security inspections checks of civil aviation operators and airports.