European Commission officials have initialled an agreement with their Russian counterparts to phase out Siberian overflight fees. The charges are estimated to cost European carriers €300 million ($388 million) this year alone.

Under the deal signed by EC transport chief Jacques Barrot and Russian transport minister Igor Levitin on the margins of a European Union-Russia summit held in Helsinki, Finland last week, the highly contentious Siberian overflight payments for EU carriers will be abolished by 2013.

The EC says the agreement "puts an end to a longstanding practice which, according to the EU, is not in line with international law, in particular the Chicago Convention".

The EC has connected the overflight-fees dispute to negotiations on Russia's entry to the World Trade Organisation.

Source: Flight International