Casualty of EU Sanctions: Low-cost Russia Airline to Suspend Services; Russia Counters, to Ban European Carriers from Airspace

By @ibtimesau on
Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting
Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow July 17, 2014. REUTERS

Dobrolyot Airline, the low-cost subsidiary of Russian flag carrier Aeroflot, has become the first casualty of the sanctions the European Union slapped against President Vladimir Putin and his country.

In response, Russia is now mulling to ban European carriers from accessing its airspace.

The new discount airline Dobrolyot, which had its maiden voyage only in June, announced over the weekend it is suspending all flights due to the EU sanctions. The stoppage took effect on Aug 4.

"Following cancellation of a lease agreement for Boeing 737-800 planes because of sanctions introduced by the EU against Dobrolyot, we are forced to temporarily halt flights on all routes as of Aug. 4," Reuters quoted the company as saying on its website.

But the sanctions against Dobrolyot may also put a strain on U.S. aviation giant Boeing which supplied its new twin-engine 737-800 jets. An unidentified number of new 737 passenger jets were reportedly expected for delivery later this year. 

The airline stressed the conditions of unprecedented pressure exerted on Dobrolyot from European contractors ultimately forced it to suspend flights and ticket sales.

Dobrolyot got included in the expanded list of sanctions the EU slapped against Russia, which involved 95 people and 23 organisations. These were subject to travel bans and asset freezes.

Dobrolyot said affected passengers would receive a refund. It will also assist passengers should they opt to rebook with other airlines.

"Flights on other routes are temporarily cancelled. Passengers will get a full refund of the ticket price," it added.

Partly owned by the state, Dobrolyot said it had been refused by European firms services such as flight information, repair and maintenance.

Apart from the aviation sector, the EU also targeted Russia's banking, defence and energy sectors in its expanded list of sanctions.

Dobrolyot had its maiden flight to Simferopol in June. It flies to seven other cities in Russia using Boeing 737 aircraft and had expansion plans for other destinations.

It got included on the sanctions list because of its direct flights from Moscow to Crimea, the Ukrainian region on the Black Sea that Russia invaded early in 2014.

Dobrolyot's shutdown will most definitely be addressed by Russia. Portal eturbonews, citing an unidentified source close to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said any "unfriendly EU measures" will be "studied" and "will not go unanswered."

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