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Who’s in charge of the Crimean sky?


Arseniy Herasymiv, attorney at law, Ilyashev & Partners
Source: The Ekonomichna Pravda

Recently, the International Civil Aviation Organization – ICAO – has recognized Ukraine’s right to air navigation service of flights over Crimea and a part of the Black Sea.

This decision of the UN specialized agency is logical and expected.

The general rule of international law stipulates that each country has complete and exclusive sovereignty over its airspace.

Any foreign aircraft flying over the territory of another state, including landing at the airport of a foreign country, requires authorization by the competent authority of that state.

The operation of aircraft between the two states is regulated by bilateral and multilateral agreements.

Such a global framework agreement on international carriage by air is the Convention of Civil Aviation or the Chicago Convention, signed on December 7, 1944 in Chicago. Ukraine and Russia are both states parties to the Convention.

This international instrument stipulates that each state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over its airspace, including land and water area.

Scheduled international air flights can be carried out on the territory or in the territory of the state only by special permission or other authorization of the state and in accordance with the terms of such permission or authorization.

Carrying out flights over the territory of the state by its permission is also enshrined in the agreement on international air service transit traffic.

In this context, it is interesting to consider experience of Abkhazia and the Republic of Cyprus, when the Republic of North Cyprus tried to make international flights to Germany and the UK through the Ercan International Airport.

The Republic of Cyprus addressed the ICAO. Having reviewed the dispute, the organization pointed out that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus is the only legitimate authority having jurisdiction over the airspace of Northern Cyprus.

In addition, having considered the attempt of British and German airlines to establish air traffic with Northern Cyprus, ICAO prohibited such traffic.

It pointed out that the responsibility for violation of this prohibition will rest not only on private airlines, but also on the state party exercising jurisdiction over such companies.

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