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Barentsburg: Russian helicopter flights

A law dispute is becoming a political issue: In 2007, the Russian helicopter company Spark Plus operated several helicopter flights from Kapp Heer (Barentsburg) which were not covered by the licence issued by Norwegian authorities, including flights for Russian scientists and for a film project. According to Norwegian officials, the licence covers only flights between Barentsburg and Longyearbyen and beyond this area only flights directly connected to the activities of the Russian mining company Trust Arktikugol (TA). TA has rejected a fine, now the case will be taken up by a court in Norway. Beyond this, the matter is discussed on a political level. According to the Russians, the Norwegian procedure offends the Spitsbergen Treaty. The Norwegians argue that relevant parts of the treaty concern governmental activities, but not those of companies or private persons. In practice, the situation means a monopoly of the Norwegian helicopter company Airlift in Svalbard.

After mine accidents and other technical problems in Barentsburg, mining will only start again in summer 2009. TA has announced to open a “shopping centre” in Barentsburg and to modernise other infrastructure (hotel, telecommunications etc.).

Norwegian coast guard helicopter near Longyearbyen. According to Norwegian law, only Norwegian aircraft may operate in Norwegian air space, exceptions can be permitted.

Barentsburg Russian helicopter flights

Source: Svalbardposten

last modification: 2014-07-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange