Monday, June 27

Why airlines pay to fly over a foreign country (and how airspace is used as a geopolitical weapon)

  • Drafting
  • BBC News World

An airplane flying over North Carolina.

Image source, Getty Images

There is one thing that many of us do when we have been on a plane for hours: look at the screen of our seat and look at the kilometers we have traveled or the countries we have passed through.

The airlines do it too … and not precisely to check the progress of the plane, but to calculate how much they will have to pay to fly over the space of each country through which they cross.

“A tariff structure is necessary to finance air traffic services in each country. They are commonly called overflight charges,” explains Simon Hocquard, director general of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization, to the NPR and BBC Marketplace program.

It is one of the sources of revenue for countries to cover the costs of, for example, air traffic controllers.

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