Canada levies $24,000 in fines for alleged Russian violation of closed airspace
N.W.T. infrastructure minister links plane to planned expedition to Nunavut
Transport Canada has imposed $24,000 in fines after a plane carrying Russian nationals en route to Nunavut was stopped in Yellowknife last week.
Canada closed its airspace to all Russian owned, operated and chartered aircraft on Feb. 27 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“It has been determined that the aircraft, although not Russian-owned or registered, had, in fact, operated contrary to … airspace restrictions,” said Transport Canada spokesperson Frédérica Dupuis in an email to Nunatsiaq News.
The Russian national who chartered the plane — and its two pilots — were each handed fines of $3,000. The aircraft operator, Dunard Engineering Limited, was fined $15,000.
The plane has been cleared to leave Canadian airspace without its passengers.
Transport Canada has not named the individuals involved, citing Canada’s Privacy Act.
The plane in question was detained at the Yellowknife Airport on March 1 with two Russian nationals on board.
Diane Archie, N.W.T.’s infrastructure minister, updated the legislature about the situation the next day, telling her colleagues that the people involved were travelling to Resolute as part of a High Arctic expedition.
The expedition appears to be a Russian-led project called TransGlobal Car. Members of the team arrived in Yellowknife last week, preparing for a trek to the North Pole in an all-terrain vehicle as part of a larger goal to circumnavigate the globe vertically by car next year.
According to the TransGlobal Car website, the expedition was “initiated” by Vasily Shakhnovsky, a former major shareholder in Yukos Oil, an oil company that was once based in Moscow.
TransGlobal Car appeared on Monday to be on track to depart Yellowknife this week.
Nobody from the group has answered questions about the expedition, but member Boris Pavlov updated his Facebook page on March 4.
“Permission to conduct the expedition has finally been received,” he wrote in Russian. “And the slightly sensational plane story has ended without incident.”