Despite the flight ban, cargo flight from Schiphol to Moscow: ‘Can’t we stop it’ | Internal

A Chinese cargo plane flew from Schiphol to Moscow on Tuesday. This is confirmed by a Schiphol spokesman. The airport and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management say they can do nothing about this because European airspace is only closed to aircraft from Russian companies. It is unknown what items were in the device.

The authorities are saddened by the situation. “According to the letter on sanctions issued by the EU, airlines from countries outside Russia can fly to Moscow, including from our country,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. “But we urge companies not to do that, given the current situation. That appeal certainly applies to companies outside the EU. “

Last Tuesday, the Chinese company Suparna Airlines took off from Schiphol at 15.15, according to data from Flightradar’s website. The plane landed almost three hours later at Zhukovsky Airport, about forty kilometers southeast of the Russian capital Moscow. A Schiphol spokesman confirmed that the flight had taken place. According to him, planes still occasionally fly back and forth between the Dutch airport and Russia. “For example, on Wednesday, a plane came in from Russia, and zero back.”

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The route for a previous Suparna Airlines flight, February 25, as shown on the Flightradar page. © screenshot

The airport also agrees with the ministry’s justification. “We follow government policy. If a plane is allowed to fly by the rules, then there is nothing we can do about it. But we also support the call not to do so, even in cases where it is strictly allowed.”

The airspace closed

The Netherlands closed its airspace to Russian aircraft at 4pm on Sunday. More than an hour later, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the measure would apply to the whole of the EU. Since then, Russian – owned aircraft registered in Russia or under Russian control are no longer allowed to take off from European countries or fly over.

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With the move, the EU wants to limit Putin’s followers in his freedom of movement and hit the Russian economy hard. In response to this move, Russia, in turn, closed its airspace to European aircraft. Meanwhile, the United States and Canada have also closed their airspace to Russian aircraft, further isolating Russia.

‘No default route’

Suparna Airlines is a Chinese airline that operates both cargo and passenger aircraft. The company is active in both Asia and Europe. According to Flightradar data, the airline also flew from Amsterdam to Moscow on 25 February. According to the page, both flights took place with a Boeing 747. According to an expert in the air freight market, however, it is ‘certainly not a standard route’.

Three Antonovs from a Russian company are based in Leipzig.  They are no longer allowed to fly since Sunday.  Photo for illustration.
Three Antonovs from a Russian company are based in Leipzig. They are no longer allowed to fly since Sunday. Photo for illustration. © Jan Woitas / dpa-Zentralbild / dpa

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Spokesmen for Schiphol and the ministry say they do not know. The Chinese company has so far not responded to questions about the flights that this newspaper has sent via email.

It is unclear whether customs have physically checked the device. A spokesman says that all planes flying to a place outside the EU must ‘declare’ what they are carrying. The customs therefore know at least roughly what was on the plane, but do not state it. If there is a reason for this, the device will also be checked. The spokesman does not know if that has happened in this case either.

China has not condemned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. When the UN handed down its verdict yesterday, the Asian giant abstained.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, with Vladimir Putin.  Relations between the two countries have become warmer in recent years.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, with Vladimir Putin. Relations between the two countries have become warmer in recent years. © AP

Unlike, for example, Air China and the Russian AirBridgeCargo, Suparna Airlines is not a member of the industry association Air Cargo Nederland, says director Maarten van As. “We have intensive discussions with our members about the situation. The general rule is: be very careful, and if in doubt, do not fly anyway. “According to Van As, the big companies are very strict in their policies.” Not just because they get a fine if they break the rules, but also because they can not find the morale right now to fly that way. “

If planes from Europe go that way, they must not transport everything. Europe’s sanctions do not allow the transport of weapons, not even anyone dual usegoods: items that can be used for warfare as well as for other purposes. Certain services to the oil industry must also not be exported. “It has really become very complex what is allowed and not allowed,” Van As says.

Customs has tightened controls since the sanctions took effect. In the port of Rotterdam, all containers going to Russia are now being checked. It creates queues. Containers going to Russia in the future will only be checked again if there is a reason for it on the basis of a risk analysis.

Redirects

Products not covered by the sanctions can be shipped to Russia by ship, train or truck. And then also by plane, if it happens by a company that does not come from a country that has been hit by the sanctions, such as China.

Several containers for Russia are currently stuck in the port of Rotterdam.  They are stopped to check if they are subject to sanctions.
Several containers for Russia are currently stuck in the port of Rotterdam. They are stopped to check if they are subject to sanctions. © ANP

The question is whether Russian and European companies that want to trade with each other will not take detours. For example, first fly to Serbia and then transfer to a plane going to Moscow. “There will no doubt be companies trying to do that,” Van As says. ,, But I can not imagine that reputable parties do. As a freight forwarder, you are responsible for the entire line: you need to know where the end user is. And that is morally untenable at the moment. “

passengers

All in all, the sanctions give the sector some headaches. “Because we are not allowed to fly over Russian territory, some destinations in Japan, for example, are much harder to reach. It really is a long way to fly. ”

The national airline KLM is also struggling with this on its passenger flights. Today, KLM announced that it will fly to South Korea again. It now takes an hour and a half longer than before; the airline flies via Kazakhstan. KLM has not yet given a definitive answer about flights to Japanese destinations.

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