Airlines flying over Ukrainian airspace are altering their schedules and limiting their exposure to the open waters of the Black Sea due to the Russian naval exercises taking place there. Ukraine’s state air traffic service has issued a directive advising airlines to avoid flying over open waters.
However, the airlines continue the flights in and out of the country.
European airline Ryanair Holdings Plc has announced that it is reducing the number of flights to Ukraine. In an email sent to the media, the airline said that its priority is the security of its passengers and crew members, and hence, it is closely monitoring the situation before reinstating the flights to the region.
Deutsche Lufthansa airline and its Swiss and Austrian divisions have altered the timing of their flights to Kyiv, from evenings to mornings. This way, the airline can avoid having crews stay overnight in the Ukrainian capital.
Since January, Canadian aircraft operators have been advised not to fly over southern and eastern Ukraine “due to the potential risk of heightened military activity and dedicated anti-aviation weaponry in eastern Ukraine.”
Air France is avoiding eastern Ukraine on flights to Asia and is now diverting around the entire country. The French arm of Air France-KLM is continuing its regular service of twice-weekly rotation between Paris and Kyiv, with same-day turnarounds.
Airlines such as LOT Polish Airlines and Hungary’s Wizz Air Holdings Plc are also continuing their direct passenger services but said they were ready to change plans if required.
Russia Builds Troops Near Ukraine Border
According to an international news agency, more than 30 Russian ships have started training exercises near the Crimea peninsula as part of broader navy drills.
The Russian troop building prompted the United States to issue a warning stating that Russia could invade Ukraine at any moment. Moscow has denied the plans of invasion, but the sudden build-up of more than 100,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s border implies otherwise.
Airlines generally avoid flying over Ukraine since a Malaysia Airlines Bhd. jetliner was shot down over separatist-held territory in the eastern part of the country in 2014. President Vladimir Putin rejected allegations that Russia was behind the action. Passenger flights are still prohibited over east Ukraine and Crimea.
Diplomats are said to be working round-the-clock to defuse the current tensions. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has said that it’s watching the developments with the aviation industry and the European Commission.