Airline Industry Cancels Flights, Closes Airspace to Russia Citing Risks Amid Ukraine Invasion

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The airline industry has turned its attention to Russia, canceling flights to the country and closing airspace to Russian airlines amid its invasion of Ukraine.

Japan Airlines canceled its Thursday evening flight from Haneda to Moscow and Friday flight from Moscow to Haneda, citing safety concerns.

“We will continue to monitor the situation in Russia and Ukraine and make decisions after confirming that there is no impact on safety,” the airline said.

Britain also closed its airspace to Russian airlines, including Aeroflot, Prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed.

No aircraft on a scheduled service which is, “owned, chartered or operated by a person connected with Russia, or which is registered in Russia” will be allowed to enter into the United Kingdom airspace,” Johnson said.

A spokesperson for the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed to The Independent that it has suspended Aeroflot’s foreign carrier permit until further notice.

“This means that Aeroflot will not be permitted to operate flights to or from the United Kingdom until further notice.”

In response to the UK’s decision, Russia has banned British airlines from landing at its airports and from crossing its airspace.

Russia’s civil aviation authority Rosaviatsia said: “This measure was taken in accordance with the provisions of the Intergovernmental Air Services Agreement between Russia and the UK as a response to unfriendly decisions by the UK aviation authorities regarding the restriction on regular flights of aircraft owned, leased or operated by a person associated with Russia or registered in Russia.”

Meanwhile, Alaska’s Anchorage Airport said carriers had started making inquiries about capacity in case routes over Russia are affected by the situation in Ukraine.

An Emirates spokesperson told The National that the airline had made “minor routing changes to Stockholm, Moscow, St. Petersburg and some of our U.S. flights” which were impacted by the airspace closings over a portion of Russia and the whole of Ukraine.

This may lead to slightly longer flight times, the airline said, adding that it was closely monitoring the situation and would take action if necessary.

The announcements come as Russian troops have reportedly made their way into the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv after explosions rocked the city overnight.

On Friday, Olexander Scherba, a Ukrainian diplomat who was the country’s ambassador to Austria 2014–2021 said that Russian special-ops groups were in Kyiv and that fighting was underway.

At least 137 people had been killed and 316 were wounded since Russia launched its assault on the country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said about two hours prior to the reported explosions in Kyiv.

Meanwhile, Ukraine on Feb. 23 shut down its airspace for civilian flights following Russia’s invasion of the country, according to an update provided by the Ukraine State Air Traffic Services Enterprise.

Ukraine cited a high risk to flight safety due to the use of weapons and military equipment.

“In particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft. The presence and possible use of a wide range of ground and airborne warfare systems poses a HIGH risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels,” said the agency.

Belarus, Moldova, and Russia are part of the affected countries.

Katabella Roberts


Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.

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