Russia must return stolen airplanes, demand MEPs

MEPs demand Russia return stolen airplanes, applaud the work of EU tourism and transport operators in assisting refugees from Ukraine


European transport operators are currently offering Ukrainians free travel by train, bus, ship or plane
European transport operators are currently offering Ukrainians free travel by train, bus, ship or plane

MEPs are worried about the notable impact the Russian invasion is having on the aviation sector, after Russia violated international civil aviation rules by forcing leased aircraft from foreign companies to re-register in Russia’s aircraft register.

The feeling in the Strasbourg plenary was that such blatant theft should not be tolerated, MEPs demanded in a statement calling for the immediate return of these aircraft to their lawful owners.

European transport operators are currently offering Ukrainians free travel by train, bus, ship or plane.

Transport remains a strategic tool for the EU to provide solidarity and support to Ukraine and its people, MEPs said. They stressed that the conflict and its related effects have taken a toll on the EU transport sector. This is due to the rising fuel prices and the disruption of supply chains. MEPs maintain that EU transport operators affiliated to the Russian market should be supported, as they shift their operations away from Russia.

MEPs also asked member states to support hotels and short-term rental services in the EU that are hosting Ukrainian refugees. They called on the Commission to set up a temporary financial programme to support tourism firms that are recruiting people fleeing the conflict.

MEPs pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic and the current war have illustrated the urgent need for an EU agency for tourism and a European Crisis Management Mechanism. The agency and mechanism would be another tool for the Union to respond adequately and swiftly to big crises such as pandemics, wars and the most severe results of climate change.

MEPs also called to further tighten sanctions on the Russian maritime sector, and deny Russian ships access to EU ports. In addition, all ships that want to stop at an EU port should be forbidden to refuel in Russian ports.

MEPs also said that the European Council’s decision to drastically cut funds for military mobility was a mistake that undermined European security. They called on the Commission to find a solution that will substantially add to the military mobility budget under the Connected Europe Facility programme.

MEPs said the EU should help member states in developing dual use infrastructure and transport interconnections within the EU, but equally toward the Western Balkans, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, they also advocated to expand the trans-European transport network to Ukraine and Moldova.

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