Russian Airlines Lose Routes As European Flight Restrictions Spread

Eastern European and Baltic countries’ bans are squeezing airspace available to Russian providers.

The amount of airspace where Russian airlines are not permitted continues to go up. [File Photo: Shutterstock]

A growing number of airspace bans across Europe are severely restricting where Russian airlines can fly.

Numerous news outlets have reported that Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia are among the latest countries to close their airspace and airports to Russian carriers. These countries join the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Poland in declaring similar prohibitions. 

Germany is reportedly planning bans as well, and the country’s transportation ministry said in a tweet Saturday that transport minister Volker Wissing supports the blocking of German airspace to Russian aircraft and has ordered preparations to execute such a plan.

As eastern European and Baltic countries close their airspace, they cut the options Russian airlines have for travel routes into western Europe. However, countries imposing restrictions on Russia are likely to expect retaliation, as Moscow threatened earlier this week. So far Russia has banned airlines from the U.K., Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Poland from using its airspace.

The Kremlin’s flight restrictions since the Ukraine conflict intensified have hampered operations for U.K. carriers that normally use airspace over northern Russia while on their way to Asian destinations including China and Japan. 

The European air travel industry is bracing for further bans if European Union countries accelerate sanctions.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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