Russian planes barred from EU airspace amid Ukraine invasion

Various airlines at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport, Russia. Sheremetyevo (SVO) is the busiest airport in Russia, with 40 million annual passengers.

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the EU has imposed a blanket flight ban on Russian planes.

“We are shutting down EU airspace for Russian-owned, Russian-registered or Russian-controlled aircraft,” she said.

Any Russian planes, whether they be commercial flights or the private jets of oligarchs, will now be unable to land in, take off or fly from any EU nation.

The UK has also banned Russian planes from its airspace.

In a retaliatory move on Sunday, Russia’s biggest airline, Aeroflot, said it would cancel all flights to European destinations until further notice.

European countries have been closing their airspace one by one recently and Germany said the ban would last three months.

Departure boards were lit up red at Moscow’s Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo airports on Sunday amid mass cancellations.

However, Russia had been responding with tit-for-tat restrictions on countries banning its flights as the nation’s S7 airlines said it would cancel flights to many European destinations until at least 13 March.

The restrictions mean that Russian airlines will have to take circuitous routes.

Many commercial airlines are avoiding airspace over Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus.

Delta Air Lines said it would suspend a flight booking agreement with Aeroflot and Virgin Atlantic said avoiding Russia would add between 15 minutes to an hour to its flights between UK and India and Pakistan.

Qantas also announced it would opt for a longer flight path from Darwin to London to avoid Russian airspace.

“Given the current circumstances and complexities, we’re opting to use one of our alternative flight paths that doesn’t overfly Russia, while we continue to monitor this evolving situation,” it said in a statement.


Featured image: iStock/tupungato

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