BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — Henrik Hololei, the European Commission's Director General for Transport and Mobility, recently admitted that Brussels is powerless to stop Chinese airlines from using Russian airspace to gain a competitive edge over European airlines, following the lifting of China's zero-Covid regime.

Since the European Union imposed sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, European airlines have been avoiding Russian airspace when serving Asia. This has not been an issue during China's border closures as part of its zero-Covide regime.

But now Chinese carriers can shorten flight times to Europe by using the Russian airspace, and this has created an unfair playing field, IATA director general Willie Walsh pointed out at the Airline Economics Growth Frontiers conference in Dublin on January 16.

Henrik Hololei has stated that Chinese carriers are not violating any aviation regulations by flying over Russia. Walsh also conceded that there were no viable solutions to the issue.