Just days after the European Union and the United Kingdom restricted their airspace to Russian-owned private aircraft, the number of departures from Russia has already decreased by 25%. Richard Koe of WingX, told Robb Report, "We've already noticed a huge decline in activity in just three days."
According to the Berlin-based corporation, business aviation traffic from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine—the three warring countries—has increased by 35% to 5,421 flights since January 1, compared to the same pre-pandemic period three years earlier. "Russian-registered planes also had a strong 2021, up by 80% over 2019," Koe added.
According to WingX, business jet traffic to and from Russia accounts for just around 7% of total yearly flights in Europe. Even at that low proportion, it's apparent that Russians adore large planes. Almost a quarter of all private aircraft flying in and out of Russia are the world's biggest business jets, which are generally converted commercial planes from Boeing and Airbus and cost more than $50 million. According to reports, Russians possess between 300 and 500 business aircraft, many of which are registered in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, Isle of Man, or Bermuda. The majority of the aircraft are based in Austria, Switzerland, and Malta.
In delivering its no-fly zone regulation, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote, "Let me be very clear. Every Russian plane, even oligarchs' private jets, will be barred from our airspace.”
Private aviation companies in Europe, such as Moscow-based Your Charter Solutions and Mediterranean charter companies serving Russian clients who fly in and out of the area on a regular basis, would undoubtedly suffer as a result of the limited airspaces. According to one executive at a UK private aviation firm who requested anonymity, the majority of his company's business does not include Russians. "A handful of our clients are more hesitant to travel today," he added, "but most of our brokers aren't noticing an immediate impact on demand."
Air routes are already undergoing changes. According to Pawel Laban, who monitors international travel and flight planning for Jeppesen, flights from Europe to Asia, which formerly went across Russian and Ukrainian airspace, are now turning south. "A gigantic black hole has formed over Ukraine and much of Russia," Laban added. "Flights that were scheduled weeks ago are being rerouted by customers. Flying across the Middle East will dramatically lengthen your flight duration and make the permission procedure much more difficult. On February 24, the aviation world as we know it altered."