How Lufthansa continues to feed thousands of passengers on Aeroflot flights, bypassing the sanctions
Despite the ban on flights to Crimea, Aeroflot makes six scheduled flights to the peninsula everyday just from Moscow. Its passengers are fed by the “Aeromar” catering company; for this, its official branch was opened in Simferopol. Among the founders of “Aeromar” are the British and German subsidiaries of the German airline Lufthansa.
The State Aviation Administration of Ukraine banned flights over Crimea back in 2014. It was supported by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol). The latter informed all European airlines about the ban. At the end of 2014, a ban on flights in the region was set by the US Federal Aviation Administration
However, many Russian airlines ignored the ban. Because of this, Ukraine completely stopped air communication with Russia on October 25, 2015 and added about 40 Russian airlines to the NSDC (National Security and Defense Council) sanctions list. Among the violators were the largest Russian airlines: Aeroflot, Ural Airlines, Saratov Airlines, UTair, Red Wings, Yamal and others.
The popular international Internet resource SkyScanner shows that at the moment you can fly to Crimean Simferopol by direct flights from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Rostov-on-Don and Sochi. Aeroflot initially operated flights through the “Rossiya” subsidiary airline, but now it flies to Crimea directly: six flights from Moscow and back, and one more flight from Sochi and St. Petersburg.
Sauté from the chef and pancakes on Maslenitsa
Chicken sauté with red rice from the eminent chef Thierry Mona or turkey fillet with Persilade herbs from the Michelin-starred chef Sylvia Baracca. In December 2014, traveler Sergey Anashkevich shared the menu for business class passengers of the Moscow-Simferopol flight of the Rossiya Airlines on his blog.
“Aeromar”, Russia’s largest catering company, provided the food on board of the Crimean flight back then and continues to do so now. For this purpose, the management of “Aeromar” set up a special branch in Crimea (which the company’s sixth branch) called “Aeromar-Simferopol”.
The branch does not have a separate legal entity; an entry about it appeared in the state register of legal entities on June 26, 2014 on the page of OOO “Aeromar”. On July 3, the company reported that the branch serviced the first flight of the special flight unit of “Rossiya” Airline.
In the book “Aeromar. 25 years with you both in the sky and on earth” (an album published by the company with photographs and a list of achievements) indicated that “the creation of the «Aeromar-Simferopol» branch in the shortest possible time was made possible thanks to the support of government departments, republican authorities, a representative office of OAO Aeroflot and the airport administration in the city of Simferopol”.
In the same book, it is mentioned that in August 2014 the company prepared a record 93,878 servings of on-board meals per day. Almost 2,000 of them were prepared by the Simferopol branch.
The largest client of ZAO “Aeromar” is the state-owned Aeroflot. It is reported that it accounts for approximately 77% of production and services. Aeroflot customers are offered 20 types of special food, including baby, diabetic, vegetarian, low salt, high fiber, kosher or halal food. There are also special festive menus for Easter, Maslenitsa, Honey, Apple and Nut Feasts (harvest days in the Slavic tradition).
In addition to food, “Aeromar” is engaged in cleaning, equipping cabins and on-board trading.
A controlling stake in “Aeromar” – 51% – is owned by Aeroflot itself. The remaining 49% belong to the German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG through its British and German subsidiaries.
The main type of activities of “Aeromar” is catering. Among others are services related to air and space transport.
The Simferopol branch of “Aeromar” also appears on Russia’s official website for public procurements.
For example, in August 2015, a contractor was selected for the reconstruction of the premises that the branch rents in Simferopol. The sum of the contract was at least 2.7 million rubles ($38 thousand). The terms of reference indicate that it is necessary to overhaul the in-flight catering workshop, which has an area of over 500 square meters. It should enable the preparation of 2000 rations (food sets) per day.
EU sanctions directly prohibit investment in the tourism and transport sectors in the annexed Crimea. The European Court can officially establish the fact of a violation of sanctions upon the appeal of the authorities responsible for sanction control in a specific EU country. As of now, a request has been sent to the relevant department of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in early April 2018, but has not received a response by the time of publication.
After receiving an inquiry from Current Time, the head office of the German Lufthansa Group promised that they would prepare an answer as quickly as possible, but two weeks later they sent a refusal.
“Unfortunately, we cannot comment on your inquiry. Thank you for your understanding”, – wrote Cynthia Lau, Director of International Communications at LSGgroup, in an email.
“Aeromar” itself also promised to answer the official inquiry of Current, but as of today we still have not received an answer.