Russia's negotiators returned to Moscow at the end of last week disappointed at a lack of progress on applications for the continued operation of Chapter 2 aircraft by Russian airlines into Europe after 1 April. The European Union has refused all general concessions. The Russian response has been to advise several European airlines that restrictions on their flights to Russia will be served.

At the 25-26 March Brussels meeting, however, the European Union agreed that a restricted number of Russian Chapter 2 airliners could fly to "remote airports" after 1 April, 2002, according to deputy chairman of the Russian government Victor Khristenko, head of the Russian delegation. Khristenko says: "EU leaders gave me their assurance that the problem of this year's [tourist] season will be solved." Russia says a ban will stop 1-1.5 million Russian tourists visiting European countries this year, and would devastate its charter and cargo carriers.

Where special permission is given, it will take the form of exemptions valid for a specified time issued by individual European states. In return Russia has promised its international fleet will meet regulations by April next year.

As the Soviet Union, Russia was present at the 1991 ICAO general assembly when it was agreed to phase out Chapter 2 aircraft by 1 April, 2002. However the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the dramatic fall in traffic, has prevented Russian airlines from modernising their fleets.

Source: Flight International