Wants to Resume Flights Between Moscow And Svalbard

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

The company's director, Ildar Neverov, expresses this wish in a letter to the Governor of Svalbard and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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 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. 

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 and Jan Mayen. 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. 

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