A discussion has broken out in the Russian State Duma about the route policy of the Volga-Dnepr Group. In a motion to the State Duma, the LDPR faction criticizes that circumventing Belarusian territory on routes between Russia and the EU, is kowtowing to sanctions imposed against the Lukashenko government by Brussels. Russian airlines should not bow to such political restrictions imposed by foreign powers, it says in the paper.
Meanwhile, Boeing has announced that it will not be exhibiting its own aircraft at the MAKS air show, which will be held 20JUL21-25JUL21 at Zhukovsky Airport near Moscow. Instead, the manufacturer will focus on presenting freighter aircraft models.
Currently, it is only a request filed by the LDPR faction, which still has to be discussed in the State Duma before the deputies decide on it. However, if they consent to the petition, it could have significant consequences for the Volga-Dnepr Group’s route policy, especially for the linehaul carrier AirBridgeCargo.
Tilting at windmills?
What adds fuel to the fire of the debate is the ultra-nationalistic tone in which the paper is written, including the warning that Russia could become a puppet of foreign powers. It states: “What right does Volga-Dnepr cargo company have to discriminate against the part of the Union State of Russia and Belarus in order to meet the requirements of the EU (which, by the way, imposed sanctions against Russia, too)? Since when does Russia submit to the restrictions of third countries? And, moreover, against its closest ally (i.e. Belarus)? Such behavior is unacceptable! We demand the restoration of all flights of Russian airlines crossing the territory of Belarus.”
However, the demand of the far-right nationalist party, which is considered a puppet of the Putin government, is likely to be of purely symbolic character. The EU has only imposed sanctions on Belarusian airlines, and called on its own airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace, but has not threatened companies from third countries, such as Russian carriers, with countermeasures if they cross Belarusian airspace on route to a EU member state.
Fitting the overall political climate in Russia
What will become of the LDPR's motion remains to be seen. But it fits into the political climate in the country. In recent years, the fight against alleged external enemies has become a guiding principle of Russian government policy. In September, Russia will elect its national parliament, the State Duma. Chauvinistic initiatives such as those of the LDPR parliamentary group are enjoying a boom in the run-up to the voting.
Boeing will only run a stand at the MAKS trade show
In the meantime, Boeing has announced that it will not be presenting any of its own aircraft models at the upcoming MAKS air show. Instead, attendees at the Boeing stand will be given a closer look at models of its freighter variants, including the two conversion models B-737-800BCF and B-767-300BCF, as well as Boeing's showpiece, the B-777 freighter.
In contrast to Boeing, Airbus will present its newest wide-body aircraft A350-1000 at Zhukovsky.
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