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Finnair’s Asian Gateway Strategy Threatened by Russian Airspace Closure

Skift Take

Finnair has positioned itself as the smart European gateway to Asia. It will need to seek an equally smart solution if Russia indeeds imposes sanctions that removes its airspace from the game.

— Jason Clampet

Finland said it’s conducting studies into the likely impact of a shutdown of Siberian airspace as Russia ponders its response to European Union sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis.

With a long-haul strategy built around flights connecting Europe with northeast Asia via the shortest routes over Russia, state-controlled Finnair Oyj has more to lose than other carriers from any Siberian shutdown ordered by Moscow.

Finland’s Transport Ministry is seeking to assess the impact of potential Russian sanctions on different modes of transport including air traffic as part of its remit to review the operating environment, Anna Sotaniemi, senior adviser in charge of Finnish-Russian air traffic relations, said by phone.

“We haven’t received any signals from Russia that this is the direction where we’d be heading,” Sotaniemi said. “We’re relying on media reports at this point, we’re not going to speculate further. Different scenarios are on the table.”

The results of the internal assessments won’t be made public, she added.

Finnish Transport Minister Paula Risikko said earlier in comments to regional newspapers that further information on whether Russia will apply measures including an airspace ban might come in the next few days.

“This may be a general thought that if something would arrive, it could come early on this week,” Sotaniemi said,

To contact the reporter on this story: Kasper Viita in Helsinki at kviita1@bloomberg.net. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Jasper at cjasper@bloomberg.net. 

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