Day-long negotiations avert aviation crisis with Russia

Transportation Ministry says Russia had until midnight to grant the proper permits to CAL, or it would freeze all flights between Tel Aviv and Russia.

By MATTHEW KRIEGER
November 29, 2007 23:36
1 minute read.
Day-long negotiations avert aviation crisis with Russia

cargo plane 224.88. (photo credit: AP)

 
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The Civil Aviation Authority and the Transportation Ministry on Thursday afternoon lifted their threat to cancel all passenger flights to Russia, averting an aviation crisis that arose earlier in the day when Russia refused to grant the necessary permits for CAL, the Israeli cargo airline, to begin direct charter flights to Russia. On Thursday morning, the Transportation Ministry said that Russia had until midnight to grant the proper permits to CAL, or it would freeze all flights between Tel Aviv and Russia. "Officials from the Transportation Ministry and Civil Aviation Authority worked hard to bring this dispute to an end," a Transportation Ministry spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post. "Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz wanted to bring this dispute to an end and therefore he was on the phone all day in negotiations with the Russians." CAL reported late Thursday afternoon that it had received the proper permits from the Russian authorities, and Mofaz was expected to conduct further negotiations with the Russian transportation minister in order to work out all the details of the agreement between the two countries. According to officials in the Civil Aviation Authority, the dispute began approximately a year ago when a CAL flight strayed from its flight path over Russia. When CAL announced in August that it intended to begin operating charter flights to Russia, the Russian transportation authorities said that the company would not be granted the permits until they provided an explanation as to why the airline diverged from its flight path. Russia claims that it has still not received an explanation. Currently, the only airlines operating cargo flights between Tel Aviv and Russia are El Al and Trans-Euro. CAL operates flights to Europe and the US, and has an annual turnover of about $100 million. It specializes in dealing with the transport of perishable goods and is the primary vehicle for Israel's agricultural exports. The company said that it will begin flights to Russia on December 10.

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