EU Restrictions Over Russian Airspace Causing Disruption to Passenger and Cargo Traffic

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Russia on Feb. 28 closed its airspace to airlines from the European Union and Canada following sanctions from Brussels and Ottawa that banned Russian aviation from entry as fighting raged in Ukraine.

Flights from 36 countries, including 27 all members of the EU, have been banned from Russian airspace, which will likely affect several airlines that use Russian airspace to get from Europe to Asia.

The Russian airspace restrictions are being brought “as a retaliatory measure for the ban by European states on flights by civil aviation operated by Russian airlines or registered in Russia,” Russia’s civil aviation authority said.

Russia’s Aeroflot said it would cancel all flights to European destinations in response.

Airlines will now only be able to enter Russian airspace with a special permit.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, announced on Feb. 27, that the EU would shut down European airspace for Russian carriers.

“We are proposing a prohibition on all Russian-owned, Russian registered, or Russian-controlled aircraft. These aircraft will no more be able to land in, take off, or overfly the territory of the EU,” von der Leyen said.

Dozens of flights have been cancelled or rerouted on detours as the cost of the airspace crisis hits airline shares.

Shares in U.S. and European airlines were down 4 percent on Monday, while Finnish national carrier Finnair saw its shares down 21 percent.

The new measures mean that some international flights will have to make long detours on certain routes without access to Russia’s airspace, potentially raising the cost of tickets.

Several carriers are diverting flights south while also avoiding areas of tension in the Middle East.

The rerouting saw Kazakhstan’s airspace experiencing a tripling of flights to more than 450.

Last week, Russia banned British carriers after the U.K. barred Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship carrier, as well as private jets.

Lufthansa cancelled 30 flights to Russia this week, with flights from Europe to Tokyo and Seoul having to fly detours for which the company has secured necessary flight rights.

Airline Swiss, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, cancelled its Feb. 28 flight from Zurich to Moscow, due to the uncertain regulatory situation and said it will not be flying through Russian airspace.

Singapore Airlines said that it was suspending all services between Singapore and Moscow until further notice for “operational reasons.”

Korean and Japanese carriers said that they would continue to use Russian airspace, but had no plans to add flights to Russia or Europe to replace flights cancelled by Western carriers.

United Arab Emirates suspended flights to two cities in the south of Russia until March 8, while it is continuing flights from Dubai to Moscow and seven other Russian destinations.

The supply chain is expected to witness further disruption as the airspace restrictions and flight cancellations will severely affect cargo traffic across Eurasia.

“Due to the ongoing dramatic developments in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Lufthansa will no longer use Russian airspace,” Lufthansa Cargo said.

American owned UPS and FedEx said they were also halting deliveries to Russia.

Washington is considering a similar action, but has yet to make a final decision, according to American officials.

The U.S. State Department is requesting that American citizens leave Russia immediately, due to an increasing number of airlines cancelling flights over Russian airspace.

Bryan Jung

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Bryan S. Jung is a native and resident of New York City with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University.



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