Turkey, Russia to enhance aviation
Turkey and Russia signed a civil aviation agreement yesterday in order to enhance cooperation with regard to airspace use, code sharing and increasing the number of fights between the two countries. After bilateral negotiations between the Turkish Ministry of Transport's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (SHGM) and Russia's Civil Aviation Authority between April 3 and 4, the two sides concluded an aviation agreement, as SHGM made public yesterday. As the agreement will increase the frequency of, and remove restrictions for, flights between several Turkish and Russian provinces, the number of destinations served by flights to and from Russia is set to increase, notably to include locations in Turkey's provinces of Samsun, Nevsehir and Gaziantep. Turkey's airline companies will be able to fly to the Commonwealth of Independent States (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Russia) through Russian airspace without any restrictions on frequency, according to the agreement. Turkey will be allowed to benefit from trans-Siberian airspace for its flights to the Far East (Tokyo, Osaka, Bishkek, and Ulaanbaatar), although limited to a frequency of 21 flights per week. The agreement also allows the designated companies to engage in code sharing applications along with third parties. Turkey and Russia signed 11 agreements in many fields during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Turkey in December. As the two countries bid to increase the $32 billion annual bilateral trade to an ambitious $100 billion, energy ties dominated the talks. Russia is Turkey's largest gas provider with two main pipelines: the Blue Stream that carries 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of fuel from underneath the Black Sea and the 6 billion bcm capacity West Line that will be soon used by four private firms rather than by the Turkish state. Russia is also building Turkey's very first nuclear plant in the southern province of Mersin. There are around 3,000 Turkish companies active in Russia, according to Moscow sources. After the lifting of visas in 2011, some 3.5 million Russian tourists have visited Turkey last year.