Russia extends overflight privileges of US carriers ahead of deadline

Russia extends overflight privileges of US carriers ahead of deadline
Moscow has extended overflight privileges of US carriers flying over Russia, hours before they were due to expire, the US State Department said, noting that it continues working with Moscow to secure “benefits” for US companies.

The US State Department announced that it has been relentlessly working with Moscow to extend an agreement which allows American passenger and cargo planes to fly in Russian airspace, drastically saving time and fuel on long-distance flights. Hours before the overflight agreement was due to expire at 7:59pm (2359 GMT), the State Department confirmed that Russia granted the much-needed extension.

“The Ministry of Transport informed us today that it will extend overflight approvals for US airlines for operations on three routes through October 28, 2018,” the US State Department spokesperson told Sputnik on Tuesday. “The Ministry of Transport extended approvals for all-cargo flights from Asia to Europe through April 20.”

The announcement came shortly after State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert announced her office was working to facilitate an agreement between the US carriers and the Russian government. In her daily briefing, she acknowledged, however, that some US carriers had “concerns” and were considering rerouting their flights. Several US airlines have since confirmed that they have been granted approvals.

“We have received confirmation from the State Department that overflight approvals have been extended through the scheduled season, and carriers are continuing to conduct normal operations through Russian airspace,” Airlines for America said in a statement.

Closing Russian airspace to US carriers is just one of many countermeasures authorities in Moscow have been considering, following numerous rounds of anti-Russian sanctions. Banning the US and European air fleet operators from flights over the world's largest country would have a serious impact not only on the companies’ revenue, but also on affordable travel between the US, Asia and Europe.

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