Source AP ©

Russia tries to move Lufthansa's cargo hub to Siberia

Russia banned Lufthansa Cargo to force it to use Siberia as a cargo hub instead of Kazahkstan. German Government is trying to urge Russia to lift the ban.

Peter Schneckenleitner, a spokesman for Deutsche Lufthansa AG, told The Associated Press that the company was asked by the Russian government to move its current hub from Astana, Kazakhstan, to Siberia - preferably to the cities of Novosibirsk or Krasnojarsk.

"We received a letter that the Russian government is expecting Lufthansa to move hubs," he said, adding that such a decision was out of the question, given the lack of infrastructure at Siberian airports, as well as frequently inclement weather.

"That's no alternative for us. It's no question," Schneckenleitner said.

The ban has disrupted 49 cargo flights a week, forcing them to fly around Russian airspace to Astana, Kazahkstan, the company's main cargo hub on its lucrative routes to Asia. No passenger flights have been affected.

Lufthansa Cargo is a subsidiary of Lufthansa.

The letter countered a claim this week from the Russian Transport Ministry that said Lufthansa flights had not been banned, but were not permitted because the airline's temporary license expired Oct. 27.

In Berlin, a spokeswoman for the Transport Ministry said officials were holding "intensive" talks with their Russian counterparts about the issue.

"We are in intensive discussions with the Russians on the issue," said Sabine Mehwald, adding that the problem could be resolved through bilateral discussions and exchanges and it would not be necessary to involve the European Union.

On Monday, Russian airline Aeroflot Cargo reported that its flights had been briefly banned from flying to Germany. They resumed earlier this week.

Regarding the earlier overflight ban that had been imposed on Aeroflot Cargo, Mehwald said authorities had decided to lift it as "an act of good will."

Shares of Lufthansa fell 1.5 percent to EUR19.63 (US$28.31) in Frankfurt.

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