France has secured an agreement in principle with Russian authorities to allow Airbus A380 intercontinental flights over Siberia, after introduction of the type by Air France.

French prime minister Francois Fillon raised the issue of trans-Siberian A380 operation when he met Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Paris on 27 November. After their talks, Russian transport minister Igor Levitin said the two sides had agreed to resolve the matter on a mutually beneficial basis.

In return for letting A380 operators use airspace over Siberia, Russia wants the European Union to allow Ilyushin Il-96-400 freighters to fly in European skies - which would benefit the type's sole operator, Polet.

Air France Airbus A380
 © H. Gousse/Airbus

However, the launch of trans-Siberian A380 flights will hinge on availability of adequate en-route ground infrastructure. Levitin says Novosibirsk Airport could handle A380s after completing modernisation of its runway, and those at Krasnoyarsk and Vladivostok are due to be upgraded soon.

Source: Flight International