Airlines war between Tajikistan and Russian has taken turn for the worse and they mutually cut the number of flights between Dushanbe and Moscow.

The Tajik civil aviation authorities say they have halted four weekly flights of Utair from Moscow to Dushanbe as well as two weekly flights of Ural Airlines from Zhukovsky Airport to Dushanbe and two weekly flights of Ural Airlines from Zhukovsky Airport to Khujand. 

“This measure is a response to the Russian aviation authorities’ decision to cut the number of flights of Tajik air carriers Tajik Air and Somon Air from Tajikistan to Moscow,” an official source at the Tajik Civil Aviation Agency told Asia-Plus in an interview.

According to him, they were informed that Tajikistan’s private air carrier Somon Air will be barred from conducting flights from Dushanbe and Khujand to Novosibirsk and its four weekly flights from Dushanbe to Moscow, while Tajikistan’s national air carrier Tajik Air will be barred from conducting its five weekly flights from Dushanbe to Moscow beginning on April 2.  

The source further added that an official delegation flew to Moscow yesterday for talks.  The delegation members include Deputy Transport Minister Sherali Ganjalzoda, Deputy Director of the Civil Aviation Agency Aziz Nabizoda and representatives of the ministries of foreign affairs and justice of Tajikistan.  The two-day negotiations are expected to start today.   

Recall, this story began on March 12, when Tajikistan’s Transportation Ministry denied Yekaterinburg-based Ural Airlines permission to operate five routes connecting cities in the two countries.

Ural Airlines suspects Tajik aviation authorities of carrying out a “systematic campaign” aiming at squeezing Russian air carriers out of Tajikistan’s market.  Tajik aviation officials, for their part, say Ural Airlines is acting beyond the confines of a bilateral agreement granting Tajik and Russian air companies equal numbers of flights between the countries.

On April 1, the Russian civil aviation authorities suspended flights of Tajik air carriers from Dushanbe to the Russian cities of Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Kazan, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, St. Petersburg and Sochi and from the Tajik northern city of Khujand to Kazan and St. Petersburg. 

Tajikistan has responded by halting flights of five Russian airlines’ flights, namely Ural Airlines, UTair, S-7 Airlines, Nordwind Airlines and Globus Airlines (Russian airline based at Domodedovo International Airport and operating for S7 Airlines), from Russian regions to Dushanbe and Khujand beginning on April 2, according to the Tajik civil aviation authorities.

Thus, Tajik civil aviation authorities reportedly halt flights of the mentioned airlines from Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Samara and St. Petersburg to Dushanbe and from Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, Samara and Surgut to Khujand.  

Meanwhile, Tajik civil aviation delegation flew to Moscow today to conduct negotiations with Russian counterparts over the airlines battle.      

The history of disputes between the Tajik and Russian civil aviation authorities dates back to early November 2016.  The two countries faced the threat of suspension of flights in early November because of a dispute between Moscow and Dushanbe over the status of Russia’s Zhukovsky International Airport, which was officially opened in May 2016.

Dushanbe called for a revision of existing bilateral agreements on mutual air flights, saying that Zhukovsky is Moscow’s fourth international airport and that it has increased the number of flights from Moscow to Tajikistan.

The Russian civil aviation authorities insisted that Zhukovsky International Airport is not under Moscow’s authority but of the town of Ramenskoye.

Tajikistan that time agreed only to flights for Ural Airlines and Tajik Air from Zhukovsky Airport.