It’s been reported by aviation website Aviator that Russia has denied overflying rights to the Icelandic carriers.
Negotiations have been taking place in secret since last year but so far without success.
It’s all part of the plan by Wow and Icelandair to expand into Asia.
Both want to market their Reykjavik hub to North American and European travellers as an indirect routing to China, Japan and Seoul.
It appears the sticking point is the Russians wanting to earn as much as US$100 per passenger for the right to overfly.
Neither Russia nor China ever signed the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) agreement of 1944. It means that, unlike most other countries, they can pick and choose the airlines to whom they grant overflying rights and they can charge royalties should they so wish.
Low-cost carriers (LCCs) work on slim margins. Adding the cost of US$200 to the price of a return ticket would make their prices uncompetitive.
Norwegian, the other LCC wanting to serve China and Japan, has encountered the same problems with the Russians. After several years of negotiations both sides have still not reached agreement.
And that is why Norwegian’s Asian flights continue to be restricted to just Bangkok and Singapore as these destinations can be served by using a more southerly routing. This will be the same with Wow’s forthcoming service to Delhi (unless a deal can be struck in the meantime).