Russian State-Owned Company Wants to Resume Flights Between Svalbard and Moscow

Svalbard lufthavn i Longyearbyen. (Foto: Erlend Bjørtvedt/Wikimedia Commons)
Svalbard Airport in Longyearbyen. (Photo: Erlend Bjørtvedt/Wikimedia Commons).

Trust Arktikugol, Russia's company on Svalbard asks Norwegian authorities to revitalize charter flights between the Russian capital and Svalbard Airport in Longyearbyen.

Trust Arktikugol, the Russian state-owned mining company on Svalbard, wants to resume charter flights between Moscow and the airport in Longyearbyen, reports Svalbardposten.

This is expressed in a letter to the Governor of Svalbard and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the company's director Ildar Neverov.

The hiatus of flights was meant as a measure against COVID and was only accepted by the company on that basis, Neverov emphasizes in the letter. Continuing, he points to heavy attrition on personnel, and thereby a great need to change crews in the Russian settlements of Barentsburg and Pyramiden.

With regard to charter flights, Neverov also points to tourism, which he has previously stated is of great potential for the aforementioned settlements. 

Flight ban also on Svalbard

As part of the sanctions against Russia, Norwegian airspace is closed to all Russian flights. This includes flights conducted by Russian companies, Russian citizens, or for Russian interests (including drone flights). The flight ban also applies to the airspace above Svalbard islands and Jan Mayen island. In other words, flights between Moscow and Longyearbyen will require exemptions from the sanctions regulations.

On Monday, a Russian citizen was arrested in Hammerfest for drone flying on Svalbard. Another Russian citizen, arrested in Tromsø last Tuesday for breaching the same sanctions regulations, was planning on going to the Norwegian archipelago. 

Svalbard has become an increasingly more important area for Russia, stated the Norwegian Police Security Service at a press conference Wednesday.

Regarding questions of crew rotation and charter tourism, as well as landing permits, Governor Lars Fause refers to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority, respectively.

Trust Arktikugol and its tourism subsidiary Grumant were recently excluded from the Svalbard tourism council. As also previously reported by High North News, the Russian authorities are planning a grand upgrade of infrastructure in Barentsburg and Pyramiden.

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.