Lufthansa Cargo, AeroLogic face Russian overflight ban

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Russia has banned overflights by two German cargo carriers forcing them to make time-consuming and costly detours.

Lufthansa Cargo has not received clearance to overfly Russia for 11 of its services linking Europe with the Far East each week, and AeroLogic, a joint venture between Lufthansa Cargo and DHL Express, also has been prohibited from transiting through Russian airspace on 30 flights, says the German airline.

The two carriers previously used Krasnoyarsk as their freight transit point for Asian flights, having switched from the Kazakh capital Astana in June 2009. At the time Lufthansa Cargo claimed the switch would yield annual fuel savings of 2,000t.

However, flights have now reverted to Kazakhstan, calling at Almaty International.

Lufthansa Cargo says the diversion around Russian airspace adds 50min to each flight and will cost the company "millions of euros" each year.

"It is an unnecessary waste of time and fuel, it costs money and increases emissions. It is difficult to see any benefit for any stakeholders," says the carrier.

The carrier says the Russian authorities have not given any reasons for their refusal to grant permission for overflights. However, Germany and Russia held bilateral talks at the end of February during which the Russian side objected to the EU's Emissions Trading System and reserved its right to "impose adequate measures" in response.

Frankfurt-based Air Cargo Germany, the subject of a tie-up with Russia's Volga-Dnepr, does not appear to be affected by the action.

Talks between the Russian and German authorities aimed at resolving the dispute are ongoing. However, Lufthansa Cargo could give no indication as to how long the ban may remain in place.