Home News EU bans NATO state airline over alleged Russia-media ties

EU bans NATO state airline over alleged Russia-media ties

EU bans NATO state airline over alleged Russia-media ties

The decision came after Finland’s transport authority said Türkiye’s Southwind Airlines was partly owned by Russian investors.

The European Union has closed its airspace to Turkish company Southwind Airlines because of its alleged ties to Russia, Swiss news portal Aero Telegraph reported this week. The measure, according to the report, is related to sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

The Antalya-based charter airline was created in 2022 to transport passengers between Russia and Turkey, but recently applied for permission to also operate flights from Turkey to Germany, Greece, Finland and other EU states. However, on March 25, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency forbidden airline from its airspace, explaining that it was detected by a probe “substantial ownership and effective control” the carrier is “linked to Russian stakeholders”, and therefore cannot be allowed to operate in an EU state.

According to Aero Telegraph, Brussels informed EU member states on March 28 that Southwind Airlines was subject to a take-off, overflight and landing ban under its regulation related to sanctions against Russia, effectively banning the carrier from entering EU airspace. The measure was to take effect immediately.

The Association of Travel Agencies of Russia (ATOR) on Friday canceled Southwind flights between Antalya and Kaliningrad, citing the ban, as the flights previously passed through EU airspace.

Questions about the background of the Turkish carrier were first raised by the German tabloid Bild last December. News reports at the time said Southwind was founded by Russian nationals and leased most of its staff and fleet from Nordwind Airlines, a Russian carrier banned from the EU. In response, Safa Oruc, head of aviation security at Southwind, told Finnish news channel YLE that the airline is owned by a Turkish national and both the carrier and its aircraft are registered in Türkiye.

US and Turkey agree on 'sanctions compliance' scheme - media

The EU closed its airspace to Russian aircraft and airlines as part of sanctions against Russia shortly after the start of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022. The US, Canada, UK and Australia have implemented similar measures. In response, Russia imposed a similar ban on airlines from those countries.

In February, the EU and the US imposed another set of sanctions against Russia, targeting various entities in several countries, including Turkey. A total of 16 Turkish companies were sanctioned for allegedly facilitating the transit of dual-use goods that could be used by the Russian military. Washington also warned Ankara that Turkish banks and other companies could be hit with secondary sanctions for doing business with Russian entities.