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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lufthansa Cargo Overflights Banned

bloombergA worker loading cargo onto a Lufthansa plane in Frankfurt. The airline says a ban was imposed over payment issues.
BERLIN -- Russia has banned Lufthansa Cargo flights over its territory, disrupting service on 49 connections per week from Frankfurt to Astana, Kazakhstan, a spokesman for Deutsche Lufthansa confirmed Wednesday.

"Since Oct. 28, we are flying around Russian airspace," Peter Schneckenleitner said. "Each round trip takes an extra three hours and we are having significant delays."

Lufthansa passenger flights were not affected by the ban.

Schneckenleitner said the reason for the ban was a "disagreement with Russia about the royalties it charges for overflights" above its territory.

A spokesman for the Transportation Ministry denied that Lufthansa Cargo flights had been banned, saying the company had been flying over Russia under a temporary license that expired Oct. 27.

"If they want to resume flights they have to formally apply for new permission," ministry spokesman Timur Khikmatov said.

Khikmatov said there were no issues between Russian authorities and the German carrier. "I do not understand this hysteria on their part."

Aeroflot Cargo reported in the meantime that its cargo flights had been briefly banned from flying to Germany.

Aeroflot said it lost permission to fly to Germany on Monday "in response to Russia's introduction of some bans of flights of the Germany company Lufthansa Cargo over Russian territory." Permission was restored Tuesday and flights resumed, the company said.

The German government confirmed earlier Tuesday that it was holding talks about the Lufthansa overflight ban, but declined to comment further.

"We assume that the nuisance will soon be cleared," said a German transport ministry spokesman, Sven Ulbrich.

The Lufthansa spokesman also expressed confidence that a resolution could be reached. "However, if the situation stays like this we will soon have to reduce flights," he said.