Ukraine conflict briefing

Ukraine shuts airspace to civilian flights

Ukraine has shut its airspace to civilian flights, citing high risk to flight safety following Russia’s military operation.

The country’s airspace was closed to civilian flights from 00:45 GMT on 24 February, Ukraine State Air Traffic Services Enterprise stated on its website.

The BBC has reported that neighbouring countries will also limit airspace, with Moldova announcing a complete shutdown and Belarus a partial closure. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has issued a safety warning against flying close to Ukraine’s borders, as well as in Russia.

The regulator stated: “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 pose a high risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels.”

The aviation industry has been cautious of operating in conflict zones given that a missile had shot down Malaysian Airlines aeroplane MH17 in eastern Ukraine’s airspace, which led to the death of all 298 people on board. The aeroplane was flying to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

Europe and Canada close airspace to Russian aircraft

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe and Canada have shut their airspace to Russian airlines.

In a statement, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “First, we are shutting down the EU airspace for Russians. 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. This will apply to any plane owned, chartered, or otherwise controlled by a Russian legal or natural person. Our airspace will be closed to every Russian plane and that includes the private jets of oligarchs.”

This announcement comes after several EU member countries said that they were barring Russian aeroplanes or planning to do so in the coming days. A similar announcement was made by the Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra to hold Russia accountable for the attack on Ukraine.

These moves are expected to intensify the pressure on the US to follow a similar course of action. Due to the growing tension, several airlines cancelled flights in and out of Russia while many countries blocked Russian airlines. Last week, Delta suspended its codeshare services with Russian national airline Aeroflot.

In a statement, Delta said: “We have removed our code from Aeroflot-operated services beyond Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport and removed Aeroflot’s code from Delta-operated services from Los Angeles and New York-JFK. Accommodations will be made for customers affected by these changes.”

In response to the aviation sanctions, Russia banned flights from numerous European countries, including UK airlines.

Russia shuts airspace for 36 countries in retaliation to sanctions

Russia has reportedly prohibited airlines from 36 countries, including 27 EU nations, as a response to sanctions imposed on the country for the Ukraine invasion.

The move comes soon after Europe, Canada, and the UK shut their airspace for Russian airlines. Names of some of the banned nations were announced by the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency Rosaviatsiya.

The countries include Albania, Anguilla, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and Malta.

The list also includes countries such as the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

By imposing a ban on using Russian airspace, airlines will have to take a new path for carrying passengers from Europe to Asia. However, Rosaviatsia noted that flights will be allowed to use the Russian airspace only during special circumstances and must obtain the approval of the Russian aviation authority or foreign ministry.

Last month, the Russian aviation authority banned UK airlines from landing at its airports and crossing its airspace. The move was made after the UK banned Russian flag carrier Aeroflot from landing in the country.

In brief

Airlines scramble as Ukraine invasion redraws route map

Airlines scrambled to adapt to conflict in Europe on Thursday as Ukraine closed its airspace, fuel prices soared, and carriers were urged to "exercise caution" deep inside Russia hours after Moscow's military invaded Ukraine.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said that Ukraine's skies and airspace in Russia and Belarus within 100 nautical miles of borders with Ukraine could pose risks.

Source: Reuters

Aeroflot cancels all flights to European destinations

Russian flag carrier Aeroflot has been forced to cancel all flights to European destinations after jets were redirected mid-flight following an EU move to ban all Russian planes entering its airspace.

The European Commission announced a ban across the entire 27-country bloc on Russian-owned aircraft from entering the bloc’s airspace or landing at their airports on Sunday after states including France and Belgium introduced their own restrictions.

Source: The Telegraph

World's largest plane destroyed

The world's largest aircraft, the Antonov AN-225, has reportedly been destroyed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials, generating alarm and sadness among the aviation world in which it occupies almost cult status.

The enormous aircraft, named "Mriya", or "dream" in Ukrainian, was parked at an airfield near Kyiv when it was attacked by "Russian occupants", Ukrainian authorities said, adding that they would rebuild the plane.

Source: CNN

Hundreds of Irish-owned aircraft to be ordered back from Russia

Irish-owned aircraft on lease in Russia will be recalled by their owners as sanctions against Russia escalate. Major aviation lessors based in Ireland, including AerCap and SMBC Aviation, have hundreds of aircraft in Russia.

Under EU sanctions announced on 27 February, leasing firms must terminate all contracts with Russian carriers over the next 30 days.

Source: Simple Flying

Manchester United terminate Aeroflot partnership

Manchester United have terminated their sponsorship deal with Russia's national airline Aeroflot.

Aeroflot has been the football club's official carrier since 2013 and the latest deal was due to run until 2023.

As a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, United knew their agreement with Aeroflot could have been caught up in US President Joe Biden's increasing sanctions against Russia.

Source: BBC