German and Russian aviation and government officials met in Bonn, Germany, on 25 and 26 November to follow up on the protocol agreement reached between both countries in 2012 (see website
link below) regarding a new overflight and a bilateral aviation agreement between both countries.
It seems that the talks were not at all successful and further discussions have been postponed to July 2016.
German hopes are not met by Russian officials
The delegations from both countries were made up from representatives from the airlines, airports, foreign offices and other high ranking officials from the German and Russian transport ministries.
Gerold Reichle, Division Head of the German Aeronautical Authority told CargoForwarder Global that almost no progress was made and concessions were few.
The German delegation had hoped that Russia would look favourably at an extended “overflight” agreement which would give German carriers more frequencies on overflying Russian territory.
Strained relationship torpedoed constructive solutions
At the same time, the Germans were it seems, willing to grant Russian all-cargo carriers more flexibility with regards to so called 5th Freedom Rights for services from Germany.
The Russians on the other hand, had no real interest in taking up German requests as the very strained relationship between Russian and its Western neighbours seems to have negatively influenced the talks.
On top of that, Russian aviation itself is going through a crisis with carriers going bankrupt and tourist destinations not being served due to terrorist fears or economic woes.
The Russian delegation seem to have presented strong 5th Freedom demands which the German side could not or would not fully honour.
Was this just a tactic from Moscow to stall discussions further?
“Small progress is better than no progress”
Mr Reichle informed CargoForwarder Global that despite his and the German delegation‘s disappointment, that some small progress was made, that the fact that the discussions took place at all is an encouraging sign.
Points mutually agreed were:
- Lufthansa was awarded an additional Siberian overflight concession for passenger operations.
- Russia was given 5th Freedom Rights for their cargo carriers to North America from Munich and Leipzig in addition to those already on hand from Frankfurt, currently operated by AirBridgeCargo (ABC).
- Memmingen Airport in southern Germany was designated as an additional entry point for Russian carriers and Kaluga for German airlines instead of Perm.
The German hopes of having Lufthansa Cargo and Aerologic (LH Cargo/DHL Express 50/50% cargo J/V) being granted further overflight rights were dashed by the Russian officials.
Bilateral agreements are according to Mr Reichle always a bit of a give and take.
It seems that this time around for the Russians side it was more of a take than a give.
John Mc Donagh
Website link to previous bilateral protocols: