Flight Cost Fear As Russia Considers Airspace
Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev says the government must discuss possible measures of retaliation after the European Union (EU) imposed sanctions on one of the nation's low-cost airlines.
The response to sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine could mean restrictions on European airlines using trans-Siberian routes.
The move would see the cost of flights to Asia increase and could effect major carriers such as British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France.
It has been reported that those airlines could stand to lose up to £1bn over a period of three months.
The restrictions would lead to longer flights and higher fuel usage, pushing ticket prices up for European airlines and putting them at a competitive disadvantage to Asian rivals.
It comes after more than 27,000 Russian tourists were left stranded abroad after a tour operator collapsed at the weekend.
Labirint announced it was halting operations on Saturday, with the Tourhelp service attempting to find seats on flights chartered by other travel companies for stranded passengers.
Tourhelp said: "All the tourists are abroad without return tickets."
Labirint is the fourth Russian travel company to go bust in the past three weeks as the Ukraine crisis was blamed for a slump in bookings for Russians wanting to travel abroad.
A drop in the value of the ruble has also affected tour operators - it has fallen by 11% against the dollar since September last year.
In a statement, Labirint said: "The negative political and economic situation has influenced the number of bookings."
A spokeswoman for Russia's Federal Tourism Agency told Echo of Moscow radio: "We worry that this is only the beginning and that there will be a domino effect."
Russia's federal investigative service said on Monday it was examining the closure of Labirint and another tour operator which failed last month - Neva - over allegations of fraud.
EU sanctions have forced Aeroflot's low-cost airline Dobrolet to suspend operations due to its flights to Crimea.
Western leasing companies cancelled contracts for the carrier's Boeing aircraft after the airline operated flights to the annexed peninsula.
Last month, Crimean Minister of Resorts and Tourism Yelena Yurchenko said more than one million tourists have visited the peninsula this year.
Russia annexed the mainly Russian-speaking Crimea in March, sparking sanctions from the EU and the US which have been stepped up since the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17.
All 298 people on board were killed when the plane came down over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.