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Russian freight company denies breaking Finnish aviation rules

AirBridgeCargo did not give a reason for Saturday's unusual flight route. An aviation expert says one explanation could be flight safety.

The flight from Moscow to Leipzig was flown using a Boeing 747-8F. Image: AirBridgeCargo Airlines

The Russian airline AirBridgeCargo says its plane did not break Finnish aviation rules when it took a lengthy detour on its route from Moscow to Leipzig at the weekend.

The firm addressed their plane's unusual flight route from Moscow via Finland to Germany, which attracted attention over the weekend, in a short press release.

The statement said that the flight plan was coordinated with Eurocontrol, a pan-European organisation responsible for the safety of European airspace.

The Finnish Air Force confirmed on Tuesday that the flight transpired according to an approved flight plan.

Flights from Moscow to Leipzig normally run south of the Baltic region. On Saturday, however, the flight from Moscow first headed north, turning over the White Sea, a southern inlet of the Barents Sea, at roughly the latitude of the city of Oulu, from where it flew to the German city of Leipzig.

Yle previously reported the suspicions of three military and security experts, who speculated that the unusual flight route could have been due to the tense situation in Europe.

In Yle's story, the experts suggested that the purpose of the unusual routing may have been to test the reaction of Finnish authorities, as a protest or an intelligence probe. The flight passed through the Tikkakoski area, which is where the Finnish Air Force headquarters and part of the Finnish Defense Forces' intelligence department are located.

No comment on the unusual route

In its statement, AirBridgeCargo does not comment on the unusual choice of flight route.

The company also chose not to comment to Yle. Jelena Bojkova, the company's marketing representative in Moscow, told Yle by e-mail that the company cannot provide any information other than the statement.

According to AirBridgeCargo, flight RU675 from Moscow to Leipzig, Germany, on a Boeing 747-8F cargo plane was executed according to plan.

In its release, the company emphasises the importance of flight safety. According to the statement, the company's safety regulations are based on the guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Within the aviation industry, there has been more speculation about possible reasons for the flight deviation. Former commercial pilot and aviation consultant Juha Ritaranta believes that the exceptional routing was likely related to safety.

According to information gathered by Ritaranta, the airline used a plane that had been fueled with the intention of flying to the United States. Due to the weight of the plane, it had to circle in the air to burn off fuel and make the plane lighter for a safe landing.