KLM will stop flying to Ukraine, the airline announced today in a statement. The next flight to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv was scheduled for tonight but wasn’t operated, added the company, amid heightened tensions in the region, as the US Government and other allies believe Russia is close to invading Ukraine.
no more flights
KLM became the first airline worldwide to stop flying to Ukraine amid the heightened tensions in Eastern Europe. The decision to stop flying its two-daily flights between Amsterdam and Kyiv “follows the adjusted travel advice to code red and an extensive safety analysis,” said the airline in a statement.
A couple of weeks ago, KLM announced it would not allow its staff members to spend the night in Kyiv. Now that the airline has stopped flying to the country altogether, it is not clear when it will resume the route again, KLM added.
The Dutch flag carrier has stated that choosing safe and optimal routes is a standard part of its daily practice. Moreover, it will always put the safety of passengers and employees first in the conduct of its operations.
KLM uses a security management system to analyze risks, and it is in constant communication with the Dutch Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and more.
Ukraine’s heightened tensions
This is not the first time KLM avoids flying through certain sections of Ukraine’s airspace.
The Dutch carrier has not been flying over the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea since 2014. Now, KLM will not fly at all through the Ukrainian airspace until further notice.
KLM first stopped flying through Crimea and the eastern regions of Ukraine following the shot down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by pro-Russian rebels. On July 17, 2014, a pro-Russian separatist group launched a Buk surface-to-air missile hitting Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER, registration 9M-MRD. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members were killed.
Prior to the shot down, the European Aviation Safety Agency had advised airlines to avoid the airspace over Crimea because of possible risks.
Now airlines are altering their schedules and limiting their exposure to Ukrainian airspace.
According to Cirium’s database, the number of international flights to Ukraine has been reduced by 7% between December 2021 and February 2022. For instance, Ryanair (the largest international airline in the country) has reduced by nearly 14% the number of scheduled flights.
KLM will not be flying to Ukraine any time soon. Photo: Getty Images.
What’s going on in Ukraine?
On Friday, the US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said a Russian invasion of Ukraine could begin “any day now.” The US Government urged Americans to leave the country.
Similarly, the UK Foreign Office warned British nationals to leave Ukraine within 48 hours while commercial means were available. On Saturday, UK’s Armed Forces Minister James Heappey warned the Royal Air Force would “not be in a position to go in” and fly out British nationals from Ukraine, unlike what happened in Afghanistan last year.
Today, US President Joe Biden held talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Biden told Putin Washington, and its allies would respond “decisively” if Russia invades Ukraine. Russia has denied any plan to invade.
The airline’s second humanitarian flight this week has provided further disaster relief in the wake of Cyclone Batsirai.
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