Flights between Germany and Russia have resumed after a several-hour interruption, airline companies said, after each country blocked the other’s incoming flights.
“Russian authorities granted permission for Lufthansa to carry out flights to Russia in June. This means that Lufthansa flights to Moscow and Saint Petersburg can operate as planned,” a spokeswoman for the airline told AFP news agency on Wednesday evening.
Russian airlines Aeroflot and S7 also announced flights would resume to Germany, according to Russian agencies TASS and Ria Novosti.
Earlier on Wednesday, Germany’s Ministry of Transport said it had denied Russian airlines permission to use its airspace after Moscow failed to approve a Lufthansa flight to Russia. It said the decision was based on the practice of reciprocal approval of flights.
The dispute follows the European Union moves to stop Russia-bound flights from crossing Belarusian airspace after the government in Minsk used an apparent fake bomb threat to force an intra-bloc Ryanair flight to land and then arrested Roman Protasevich, a wanted activist and journalist who was on board.
Subsequently, Moscow refused to approve updated flight plans from several European airlines that were designed to let their aircraft reach Russia without crossing its close ally Belarus.
The German transport ministry said earlier on Wednesday Russia’s aviation authority FATA had not renewed Lufthansa’s flying rights for June on time, meaning a flight that had been due to depart early on June 2 had to be cancelled.
“On the basis of standard reciprocal practice, the Federal Aviation Office has not provided any further approvals for flights by Russian airlines and will not do so while Russian approval is still outstanding,” the ministry had said, adding that German embassy in Moscow was in close exchange with Russian aviation authorities.
The moves came amid mounting tension between Western countries and Russia over the latter’s support for Belarus.
The 27-nation bloc and the United States last week introduced fresh sanctions against Belarus after the Ryanair incident, in addition to those already imposed on Belarusian officials, including its longtime President Alexander Lukashenko over alleged electoral fraud and clamping down on protests last year.
The pressure further mounted on Wednesday as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said some members of the transatlantic security alliance were considering taking tougher action against Belarus.