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Last Updated: Friday, 2 November 2007, 15:42 GMT
Russia relents in Lufthansa row
A Lufthansa cargo plane
The ban impacted on Lufthansa Cargo's flights to Asia
Russia has allowed cargo planes from German airline Lufthansa to resume using its airspace after a short ban.

The carrier had been in a row with the Kremlin after it was forced to re-route flights - costing it hundreds of thousands of euros in extra fuel.

Russia wants the airline to relocate its Asia hub - currently in Astana, Kazakhstan - to Krasnoyarsk in Siberia.

However, Lufthansa says that this is not an option as the airport is not suitable - especially in fog.

Russia said that it had now extended permission for the carrier to use its airspace until 15 November.

It added that German aviation authorities "agreed to consider a proposal" that Lufthansa's cargo planes would make transit stops in Siberia en route to Asia.

But Lufthansa spokesman Peter Schneckenleitner said that this was out of the question.

"We received a letter that the Russian government is expecting Lufthansa to move hubs," he said.

"That's no alternative for us."

Strong-arm tactics

Astana lies about 1,500 kilometres (940 miles) to the west of Krasnoyarsk.

The airline runs 49 cargo flights a week to Asia which have had to be diverted to avoid Russian skies.

"It means that we have to re-route flights to Japan, China, North Korea and Singapore," a spokesman told Der Spiegel magazine.

"It takes a lot longer and costs a lot of money."

Detours to avoid Russian airspace had increased Lufthansa's fuel bill by about 280,000 euros a week (194,400; $405,400), it said.

No passenger flights have been affected.

Germany's transport ministry had been holding talks with Russian counterparts and had threatened to complain to the European Union over the action.

Analysts have said that Russia's tactics are similar to those it has used in gas price disputes with Ukraine - which resulted in supply disruptions.

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