The European Union is banning all Russian airlines from serving destinations in the EU and flying through its airspace. This was first reported by German public broadcaster ARD on Saturday evening.
At the same time, European airlines are stopping their flight connections to Russia for at least one week while also avoiding its airspace entirely.
On Saturday, several Lufthansa and KLM flights that had already entered Russian airspace turned around. “Lufthansa will not use Russian airspace for the next seven days due to the current and emerging regulatory situation. Flights to Russia will be suspended during this period.“, a Lufthansa spokesperson tells International Flight Network.
Previously, several Eastern European countries announced closures of their airspace to Russian airlines. On Thursday, the United Kingdom became the first country to take this step, followed by Poland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria on Friday, and the Baltic states, Slovenia and Romania on Saturday.
S7 Airlines, the second largest Russian airline, had already stopped suspended its routes to destinations in EU countries. However, flag-carrier Aeroflot kept serving most of its destinations until the EU’s ban.
The avoidance of Russian airspace will inevitably lead to significantly longer flight times on routes between Europe and East Asia. This affects both passenger and cargo services. A ban of Russian airlines could lead to logistical problems as the major Russian air cargo group Volga-Dnepr served various destinations in Europe, often operating on behalf of companies such as DHL.
This is a developing story. Updates to follow.
Jakob Wert is an aviation journalist from Germany. He built up the website IFN.news and is the Editor-In-Chief of International Flight Network.