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Russia bans UK flights from its airspace amid Ukraine invasion

Country retaliates after UK banned Russian aircraft

Helen Coffey
Friday 25 February 2022 20:22 GMT
Air Raid Sirens Sound in Kiev as Ukraine Airspace Sees Civilian Travel Diverted

Russia has banned UK flights from its airspace.

The country’s civil aviation authority has announced that UK flights to and over Russia are prohibited, after the UK imposed a ban on Russian aircraft from midnight on 25 February.

The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency called the UK’s decision “unfriendly”.

It said in a statement: “From 11.00 Moscow time, a restriction was introduced on the use of the airspace of the Russian Federation for flights of aircraft owned, leased or operated by a person associated with the UK or registered in the UK, to points in the territory of the Russian Federation , including transit flights through the airspace of the Russian Federation.

“This measure was taken in accordance with the provisions of the Intergovernmental Air Services Agreement between Russia and the UK as a response to unfriendly decisions of the UK Aviation Authorities regarding the restriction on regular flights of aircraft owned, leased or operated by a person associated with Russia or registered in Russia.

“Yesterday, in accordance with the norms of international law, in order to discuss the issue of flights between the two countries, a proposal was sent to the British Aviation Authorities to hold consultations.

“This morning, a negative response was received from colleagues in the UK. This is the basis for the adoption by the Russian side of mirror measures in accordance with the provisions of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Air Services between Russia and the UK in order to comply with the principle of parity and equal rights for airlines.”

British prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday that any plane on a scheduled service “which is owned, chartered or operated by a person connected with Russia, or which is registered in Russia”, including the country’s flag carrier, Aeroflot, would not be allowed to fly to or over the UK.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed it has suspended Aeroflot’s foreign carrier permit indefinitely.

A CAA spokesperson said: “Following the announcement by the Prime Minister in Parliament today, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has suspended the foreign carrier permit held by Aeroflot Russia Airlines (Aeroflot) until further notice.

“This means that Aeroflot will not be permitted to operate flights to or from the United Kingdom until further notice”.

Russia’s decision to ban UK aircraft from its airspace could impact heavily on scheduled flight paths, as planes will have to ensure they steer clear of flying over the world’s biggest country.

British Airways’ parent company IAG – which also owns Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling – had already decided to reroute all flights so that they don’t enter Russian airspace and cancel today’s BA flight to Moscow following Mr Johnson’s directive.

“Following the UK government decision to ban Aeroflot from landing in the UK, we have taken the decision not use Russian airspace for overflights,” IAG CEO Luis Gallego said. “We are avoiding Russian airspace for the time being.”

“The impact for us is not huge because right now we are only flying to a small number of destinations in Asia and we can reroute our flights.”

BA has warned that rerouting to avoid Russian airspace may lead to longer flight times. It has cancelled its only flights to Russia, a thrice-weekly service to Moscow.

An airline spokesperson said: “We have suspended our flights to Moscow and also the use of Russian airspace, following the confirmation of Russian government restrictions.

“We apologise for the inconvenience but this is clearly a matter beyond our control. We are notifying customers on cancelled services and are offering a full refund.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

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