On September 10 2022, the Moldovan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued an order prohibiting all domestic airlines from flying through Russian airspace “for safety and security concerns”.

The decision was made in response to Air Moldova’s announcement that regular flights to Moscow will begin on October 1. In response, Air Moldova said that if the issue cannot be resolved peacefully, it may consider appealing the CAA’s directive in court. The airline claims several requests from Moldovan nationals in Russia who wanted to go home led to its decision.

Andrei Spinu, the deputy prime minister of Moldova, referred to Air Moldova’s declaration as “irresponsible” in a statement broadcast on television on Saturday, September 2022- SeeNews.

“We believe that such flights are risky, and I ask citizens not to be fooled by this announcement because nothing is clear yet,” Spinu said during a talk show on local TV station Moldova1.

Igor Grosu, the chairman of the parliament, referred to Air Moldova’s announcement as “a lie” and claimed that those responsible would have an interest in destabilising Moldova. During a talk show on TVR Moldova on Saturday, September 10 2022, Igor Grosu stated,

“It is a lie like many others that is meant to raise some expectations and create tension. It was an instrument of manipulation and misinformation of this company which is still owned by people who should be in jail.”

Air Moldova
Air Moldova announces the resumption of flights to Moscow @Air Moldova

Closed airspace and bans to fly to Russia

Almost immediately after the Russian military invaded Ukraine in February, Moldova closed its airspace and halted all flights. Moldova opened up a portion of its airspace to civil aviation with Romania in March 2022 while keeping the border with Ukraine closed until September 10, with no additional restrictions on the destination of flights from Moldova ever enforced.

According to Noi.MD In July, the CAA explained that local companies are not banned from operating flights to Russia. Russian planes cannot fly to Moldova since they are restricted from entering the European Union and Ukraine. Still, according to the CAA, Moldovan firms are free to fly to Russia.

“Moldova has not imposed restrictions on Russian companies, but Russian aircraft cannot land in our country because Ukrainian and EU airspace is closed for them. In return, our airlines can operate flights to Russia — but the absence of such flights is probably due to the higher expenses considering that they would have to cross a large territory,”  the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stated.

Russian Owners Control Air Moldova

Air Moldova, a state-owned company, was founded in 1993 and currently conducts direct flights to St. Petersburg, Krasnodar, Tel Aviv, Istanbul, Antalya, London, Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris, Nice, Lisbon, Rome, Milan, Verona, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, and Sharm el Sheikh.

In 2018, Romania’s Civil Aviation Group purchased the company for 1.3 billion Moldovan lei ($67 million/67 million euro), which included the company’s 1.25 billion lei debt. Blue Air Aviation, which controlled 49% of Civil Aviation Group, sold its holding to Latvian industrialist Dzintars Pomers a year later.

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