Russia and Europe avoid “Air War” –dialogue to continue about aircraft noise laws

We would like to offer you the first publication by PRAVDA.Ru’s trainee Tom Wishart, who started his work in Moscow on Monday.

Official Russia-European Union negotiations over the new Europe-wide law on aircraft noise-emissions ended in Brussels yesterday, with both parties reaching limited agreements. The law, due to come into force next week, is based on a 1992 European Resolution, seeks to ban what it deems the “noisiest” planes from European airports –the aim being the reduction of noise pollution in the EU.

While Russian concern over the new law being a major cause for concern for the country over the last week, in an interview with PRAVDA.Ru a spokesperson for Aeroflot highlighted the fact that the EU’s intention to introduce the new legislation was made 10 years ago, and therefore the National Carrier “had already taken the necessary measures in order to conform to the new legislation”. Aeroflot now sees only the quieter planes of its fleet, including the Russian-built Tu-154M, serving the European destinations. Despite the largest Russian airline’s ability to restructure in order to conform to the new requirements, the last few weeks had seen the smaller Russian airlines, the Russian government and the beleaguered Russian traveler voice serious concerns over the impact of the new legislation. All parties will indeed be grateful that the two days of talks between Russian and European delegations seem to have succeeded in breaking the deadlock. At Wednesday’s press conference the leader of the Russian delegation, Vice-Premier Viktor Khristenko, announced that Russia had received “full assurances” from the European Commission that “through negotiations the edge would be cut off the situation for the 2002 season”. By effective negotiations with EU countries held individually, rather than with the Union as a whole, Russia has already managed to already reach agreement with Belgium, Greece, Holland and the Scandinavian countries, while negotiations with other European countries will continue, with France and Germany “about to be settled” according to Khristenko.

Russia will also be delighted to have avoided another trade war - especially given the ongoing dispute with the US over the contentious issues of chicken imports and steel tariffs. With Khristenko promising that the Russian Air Industry will take “internal measures” - such as the reallocation of aircraft to routes in correspondence with the controls on noise emissions – it appears that fears over fare-hikes and less choice for passengers, as well as potentially disastrous effects for the Russian airline industry, appears to have been fully assuaged.

Tom Wishart is from Southampton, England, and he is a final-year student of Russian and Economics at the University of Sheffield. He says: “With a real interest in current affairs, especially those concerning the former USSR, the opportunity to work at Russia’s leading on-line newspaper during my Easter holidays seems far more important than revision for my final set of exams”.

Tom Wishart PRAVDA.Ru

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