Irish officials contact Moscow as Ryanair ponders Russian venture
IRISH civil servants have contacted counterparts in Moscow seeking approval for Ryanair to possibly enter the Russian market.
It is understood the formal request was sent from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin to the Russian Foreign Ministry as the low-fares carrier considers the move.
It's understood the Department of Transport initiated the process at the request of the airline, with Iveagh House acting as the "messenger". The Russian authorities have yet to respond, it is believed.
The Department of Transport declined to comment.
The airline remained tight-lipped about its plans, other than to describe them as exploratory. It said Ryanair has had discussions with a number of Russian airports.
"We talk to many airports and always keep the door open to new route options; and the best way to do that is by meeting them," the airline said.
It is understood that it is common for government intervention in the absence of an open skies agreement.
A government source said: "It has to operate like this because this is the legal agreement that we have with Russia, in the absence of an open sky agreement that's what happens."
The head of Russia's federal anti-monopoly service last week said the Russian Government is considering a plan to open up the aviation market to foreign low cost airlines.
Low-cost airlines that fly to Russia include Germany's Air Berlin and Germanwings, Spain's Vueling Airlines, Norway's Norwegian, Austria's Niki, Turkey's Pegasus Airlines and the United Arab Emirates-based companies Air Arabia and Flydubai.
Russian domestic low-cost airlines included SkyExpress, founded in 2006, and Avianova, which began flying in 2009. Both ceased operations in 2011.