In a move to punish London for imposing a ban on the Russian airline Aeroflot, Russia has banned UK’s British Airways from landing at its airports or crossing its airspace. The ban took effect from yesterday.
“A restriction was introduced on the use of Russian airspace for flights of aircraft owned, leased or operated by an organisation linked to or registered in the UK,” Rosaviatsiya, the Russian agency responsible for overseeing the civil aviation industry in Russia, said in a statement released.
For British Airways, avoiding Russian airspace on its way to Asia will lead to the consumption of more fuel and time for its flights. Following the announcement, the airline cancelled its London-Moscow flight. The ban will affect nearly 24 passenger flights providing services between UK and Russia each week. Two-thirds of it was provided by Aeroflot, which the UK banned following Russia’s Ukraine invasion. British Airways provided the remaining services.
Since many countries in Asia has COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, British Airways has fewer flights operating to Asian countries. According to Luis Gallego, Chief Executive Officer of British Airways’ parent company International Airlines Group, Russia’s ban will not significantly impact the airline as there are only fewer flights operating to Asian countries.
British Airways has services scheduled between the UK and destinations such as Lahore, Islamabad, Bangkok and Singapore over the next two days, which should have crossed Russian airspace. A considerable delay in flight time could be expected as the airline now has to avoid the Russian aviation route. Meanwhile, a British Airways flight from New Delhi to London took an additional one hour than the usual nine hours as it avoided Russian airspace.
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Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd has suspended a cargo-only flight from London to Shanghai. The passenger services to Hong Kong are already suspended until mid-March due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will not fly across Russia.
The Czech Republic and Poland have announced that their airspaces will not be open for Russian airlines. Other countries have not announced any plans regarding such ban on Russian flights, but nothing is entirely off the table.