EU Bans Turkish Carrier Southwind & Air Cairo Flights For Russian Ties

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Summary

  • The European Union (EU) has banned the Turkey-based Southwind Airlines from entering its airspace on March 28, 2024.
  • Initially, Traficom, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency, prohibited the carrier from operating flights to Finnish due to its Russian ties on March 25.
  • Southwind Airlines has already changed some of the flight paths that previously overflew parts of the EU.

The European Union (EU) has prohibited Turkey-based Southwind Airlines from operating flights to the bloc. The decision was made following the discovery of alleged links between Russia and the Turkish carrier, with the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency initiating the process.

Ties to Russia

According to a report by Germany-based aeroTELEGRAPH, the EU notified other member states that Southwind Airlines was banned from operating flights within the bloc due to alleged ties to Russia on March 28, 2024. This has prevented the carrier’s aircraft on entering and/or leaving the EU’s airspace.

Photo: JetKat | Shutterstock

The airline, whose legal name is Cortex Havacilik Ve Turizm Ticaret, has been on the list of the EU Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) approved third-country operators (TCO) under its legal name. According to the list, the airline’s air operator’s certificate (AOC), TR-025, is Turkish.

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Spearheaded by Finland

On March 25, Traficom, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency, issued a statement that Southwind Airlines requested permission to operate flights to Finland. However, the agency told the carrier’s representatives that it would not be allowed to do so.

“Based on Traficom’s overall assessment, the substantial ownership and effective control of the airline is not vested in the Contracting Party designating it or in its nationals, as would be required by the applicable Air Services Agreement.”

The Finnish agency cited the EU Sanctions Regulation, Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014, as the reason why Southwind Airlines is prohibited from flying to the EU. Jarkko Saarimäki, the Director General of Traficom, added that the substantial ownership and effective control of Southwind Airlines was not in the hands of Turkish entities or individuals. Instead, the airline was effectively controlled by Russian individuals.

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As a result of the EU notifying its member states about the ban, the airline had to immediately change how it routes its aircraft on flights between Egypt and Russia. For example, Flight SM903 between Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport (SSH) and Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) crossed the air spaces of Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus before finally landing at SVO on March 27.

On March 29, the same Boeing 777-300, registered as TC-GRV, which operated the same flight, instead turned eastward in Turkish airspace, flying through Sakartvelo before turning north above the Caspian Sea, crossing into Kazakhstan and Russia, before finally landing at SVO, according to Flightradar24 records.

Another example could be Southwind Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8, registered as TC-GRJ, which has been regularly flying between Istanbul Airport (IST) and Minsk National Airport (MSQ), Belarus. On March 28, the aircraft crossed several EU member states’ borders before landing at its destination, while a day later, it was forced to fly east before turning back west over Russia as it approached MSQ.

The EU, as well as other Western countries, have sanctioned Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, resulting in a full-scale war on February 22, 2022. However, the EU first began sanctioning Russian individuals and entities following the beginning of the occupation of Crimea and the proxy war in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, where Russia’s puppet states, the Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic, had begun fighting Ukraine over the territorial control of the region.

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