Having deliberately kept US airlines wondering what to do right up to the last-minute, the Russian Government finally agreed to offer a continuation to October 28th – the end of the northern summer flying season.
The continuation keeps the four primary routes operating – three are used on passenger and freight routes going east over Europe, and one by freight only from Japan going west.
That last route has been given only until April 20th. The Russians are said to be thinking about an alternate route – the current one is close to militarily sensitive areas and with increasing tensions, the Russians aren’t happy about passive spying – even if there’s no proof it even happens with civil aircraft.
It seems as well, that the US role in Afghanistan, highly dependent on aircraft flying over Russia, may be a target of Russian interest. They’ve always been happy for the US to deal with an issue close to them that keeps them out of it, but it may be they’re prepared to turn the screws a little more than in the past.
Russia charges hefty fees for overflights – all of which are channelled to Aeroflot. The news that the aviation industry wanted came after President Trump once again back flipped over new sanctions. Strangely when they were dropped embarrassing the US ambassador at the UN who’d clearly been instructed otherwise, the Russians dropped the overflight issue.
It’s a win-win for Russia, they keep control of the situation, the money for overflights rolls in and they have negotiating power over access to their air space past October if the US threatens more sanctions.