Several European nations and Canada announced plans to close their airspace to Russian aircraft in response to the invasion of Ukraine ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The US is reportedly considering similar action but has not yet reached a decision. Demand for international travel remains depressed because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Europe, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Nordic and Baltic states have banned Russian flights. The move is a significant escalation in sanctions from NATO allies against Russian aggression.
French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari announced that his country was shutting off all Russian air traffic as Air France-KLM said it is canceling all flights to and from Russia and will not cross Russian airspace as of last Sunday. Air France said that it was suspending flights to and from China, Korea and Japan as it looks at alternative routes allowing flights to avoid Russian airspace.
The German transport ministry announced it would close its airspace to all Russian aircraft for three months from last Sunday. The only exceptions allowed would be for humanitarian aid travel.
While Canada has closed its airspace to Russia, Air Canada does not operate any routes to destinations in Russia or Ukraine. The Canadian air ministry did confirm that several routes originating or ending in Russia each day by international carriers will be affected.
The flight restrictions come as the US leads most of the same countries in declaring new financial sanctions on the Putin regime.
Russia has responded to the first round of airspace bans by blocking its airspace by the UK, Bulgaria, and Poland. Logistics experts say that Western carriers will be forced to reroute flights to the south while avoiding several areas in the Middle East.
If a reciprocal ban occurs between the US and Russia, American carriers will face longer flight times and additional crew changes for routes between the east coast and Asia. Some flights would likely become too costly for domestic carriers and the remaining routes would become more expensive.