Regulation changes impact Baltic states

  • 2002-01-31
  • BNS
RIGA - Amendments to Europe's air traffic regulations effective Jan. 24 impact the Baltic states' air space, which now lies in the border region between Russian and European air traffic systems.

Russia is not introducing the new system but Belarus and Ukraine are.

As a result air traffic controllers in the Baltic states must coordinate planes en route to or from Russia so they can change to the appropriate altitude at the correct time.

The new European regulations were introduced in order to provide additional free air space in countries like Germany and France where air space is overcrowded.

The amendments halve the minimum distance between planes flying at altitudes over 8,840 meters. Planes flying at that altitude over Europe will now be able to fly within 305 meters above or below another plane. This will allow many more planes to be in the sky above Europe simultaneously.

Air companies will be able to save fuel by picking more advantageous routes. The need to maneuver through air route crossing points will also be reduced.

There are no details yet as to whether Russia will join the system, but Latvia's Civil Aviation Administration Director General Maris Cernonaks said Russia was currently developing new air traffic regulations.

Riga Airport President Dzintars Pomers said planes served by the airport were equipped to fly at the reduced distances from other planes.

The amendments have been introduced at a time when demand for passenger flights is at a record low. They should allow the air companies to save nearly 4 million euros ($3.48 million) on fuel and from less frequent cancellation of flights.

Latvijas Gaisa Satiksme, the Latvian air traffic control company, last year supervised 95,155 flights, an increase of 0.2 percent over 2000, said company Vice President Alfreds Mikelsons.