Will Ukraine close the airspace for commercial flights?

As the diplomatic situation between Ukraine and Russia continues to deteriorate, civil aviation has become increasingly affected.

Local airlines are forced to give up some of their aircraft, as insurers refuse to cover flights through Ukraine. However, as long as the airspace remains open for commercial operations.

This new tension revives the memory of the flight MH17 Malaysia Airlines, whose downing over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 killed 283 people. After this tragic event, many airlines avoided the area.

Due to the fact that the conflict seemed to flare up again, several airlines decided to suspend flights to Kiev and change routes to avoid Ukrainian airspace.

On 12 February 2022, the Dutch carrier KLM was the first to announce that it was suspending all flights to Boryspil International Airport (KBP) in Kyiv, Ukraine, pending further notice. “This decision follows from the adjusted travel tips on the red code and extensive safety analysis,” – said the airline.

German flag carrier Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) is also reportedly considering suspending flights to Kiev. British Airways, which does not fly directly to Ukraine, seems to have changed its Asian routes to avoid Ukrainian airspace from the north or south.

Later that day, the flight of the Ukrainian airline SkyUP PQ902 from Madeira, Portugal, to Kiev, was to be redirected to Chisinau, Moldova. Deucalion Aviation, an Irish lessor that was a branch of DVB Bank in 2021, has banned its aircraft from entering Ukraine. “Despite all the efforts of the airline and the willingness of Ukrainian authorities to contact the lessor, the owner of the aircraft flatly refused just at the time when the aircraft was already flying to Kiev,” – said in a statement.

Insurance companies have informed Ukrainian air carriers that from February 14, 2022 will stop insuring aircraft for flights in Ukrainian airspace. Thus, the leased aircraft will be transported from Ukraine. For example, Ukraine International Airlines was forced to send five Boeing 737-800 aircraft to Spain for storage. Two additional aircraft were also sent for early maintenance in Serbia.

There is no closed airspace yet

Ukrainian authorities have said they continue to keep the country’s airspace open. “The closure of airspace is a sovereign right of Ukraine, and no decisions have been made in this direction,” – said on his Facebook page, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Mustafa Nayem.

The management of Boryspil International Airport said that the work would continue on a regular basis, “ensuring security and a high level of aviation security.”

To try to mitigate the damage, the Ukrainian government has decided to allocate funds from the reserve fund of the state budget for insurance of flights in the airspace of the country.

“To do this, in coordination with the Budget Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the size of the reserve fund of the state budget increased by 16.6 billion USD (581 million USD). The allocated funds cover the insured events of at least 23 aircraft, ”the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine explained. The priority of these aircraft will be the repatriation of Ukrainian citizens from abroad.

The ministry said that as of February 13, 2022, 29 international airlines continued to operate flights from 34 countries.

Among them is the low-cost carrier Wizz Air, the schedule of which remains unchanged. “Wizz Air continues to closely monitor the situation in Ukraine,” the airline told Reuters. Similarly, Ryanair continues to operate several daily flights to both Kiev and Odessa.

Not only does Air France continue to operate two weekly flights between France and Ukraine, but flyradar24 data shows that it has even increased its capacity by using the Airbus A321 instead of the A319 aircraft. The French carrier can expect more demand, given the disruptions in the schedule of its competitors.

https://www.aerotime.aero/authors/clement.charpentreau/30222-ukraine-airspace-closed-crisis Will Ukraine close the airspace for commercial flights?

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