EC launches proceedings against Estonia, Lithuania

  • 2011-03-15
  • TBT Staff

Estonia and Lithuanian airlines are being scrutinized for agreements with Russia.

BRUSSELS - The European Commission has initiated infringement procedures against Estonia and Lithuania, along with four other EU countries, over aviation agreements that the countries signed with Russia.

The commission claims that individual agreements with Russia, which employs a large tax for all flights over Siberia, have resulted in inequalities among EU airlines.

The five countries involved in the proceedings are Estonia, Lithuania, Greece, Malta, Slovenia and Hungary. Earlier this year, the EC launched similar infringement procedures against seven other EU member states. A total of 17 countries have faced scrutiny over bilateral agreements. 

"The fact that European Union airlines have to pay to fly over Siberia on their way to Asian destinations can not only make flights more expensive, but can also lead to unfair competition between EU and non-EU airlines," the commission said in a statement.

"EU carriers are de facto forced into agreements with their competitor."

In 2008, airlines from EU countries reportedly paid more than 300 million euros in Russian overflight tax fees.