UN excludes Russia from participating in new bids to provide air services

United Nations flag
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The United Nations (UN) Secretariat has excluded Russian companies from participating in new bids to provide air services to UN agencies, meaning that it will not renew contracts with Russian airlines that are due to expire in the first quarter of 2024.

The decision emerged after a recent evaluation conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), shedding light on significant safety concerns surrounding aviation operations in Russia. In September 2023, Russia was designated with a “red flag” status by ICAO, indicating that safety standards in the country had been lowered amid shortages of spare parts and critical components. Russia was marked as one of the four most dangerous countries to fly in globally along with Liberia, Bhutan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In response to the matter, Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, confirmed that Russian airlines are currently fulfilling their obligations under existing contracts. However, these operators are slated to withdraw from the UN’s air transport market for agencies by April 2024.

Zakharova described the UN’s decision as a “systemic problem” resulting from the organization’s reliance on the ICAO’s findings.

“There is a systemic problem concerning contracts not being renewed for the provision of aircraft by Russian companies for the UN. After the International Civil Aviation Organization approved a decision on the existence of ‘significant safety concerns’ regarding Russia, the UN Secretariat, based solely on its own interpretation of the SSC [Significant Safety Concern – ed.], restricted the participation of Russian companies in new tenders for the supply of air services to the [UN],” the spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry was cited as saying by the Russian media outlet RBC.

“The Ministry of Transport […] working with the ICAO on the possibility of adjusting the SSC in such a way that the “concern” applies exclusively to aircraft with dual registration, and not to the entire civil aviation of Russia. […] We proceed from the assumption that the implementation of this initiative will make it possible to resume the participation of Russian companies in the activities of the UN,” the spokesperson concluded.

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