Flights Over Kazakhstan Triple After Airspace Bans

As the war in Ukraine rages on and sanctions are levied across the board, airlines have been looking for airspace in Asia to continue flying through. This has made Kazakhstan’s airspace extremely valuable in recent days, with flights tripling to over 450 daily. With the crisis not dying down soon, here’s a look at the new airspace map for airlines.

last one remaining

The last 96 hours have been chaos across Europe, including in the sky. The EU and UK have both banned all Russian aircraft from their skies, a move that has been reciprocated. This has meant carriers have to create new flight paths with the airspace currently available to them. Given Russia’s location, flights to East Asia have been most affected by the current restrictions.


Kazakhstan has emerged as the key to continue operating flights between Western Europe and Asia. Airlines have been flying through the continent and out over the Caspian Sea before entering Kazakh and Mongolian airspace. According to Reuters, the number of flights overflying the country has risen from 150 to over 450 in the last few days alone. If these restrictions remain in place for longer, which is likely, the country will be in a crucial position for global traffic.


Once a straight journey through Russia, flights have been forced to fly through Europe and Kazakhstan en route to East Asia. Map:


It was only two months ago that Kazakhstan was battling its own domestic crisis, which saw the closure of its airport to commercial flights. However, the war in Ukraine has shaken global dynamics, and airlines are taking advantage of the key country to maintain essential services.

Kazakhstan is a former Soviet republic and a close ally of Russia. However, for now, its airspace is vital to both the West and Russia to maintain services. The Cold War era saw the entire Soviet airspace closed to foreign carriers, leading to complicated and long routes across the Pacific for flights.


Despite routes still existing, airlines have suspended flights to Asia due to economic viability. Photo: British Airways

Other vital countries include Turkey and Mongolia. The former has served as neutral territory in other conflicts as well, such as the Qatar blockade (2017-21), and will once again play host to more flights.

Not enough for airlines

Despite Kazakhstan providing a bridge to East Asia for European airlines, it may not be enough to keep routes going. Rerouting away from Russia can add hours to the total flight time, resulting in more fuel burn for airlines. Carriers like Finnair, which makes use of Russian airspace for its vast Asian network, have already warned of a potential wipeout due to the ban.

Russian airlines have been hit hard by the sanctions as well. The airspace of the EU, UK, and Canada are now all off-limits, making flights to North America an onerous affair and axing dozens of destinations in a matter of hours. However, the consequences of Russia’s war are even more far-reaching, with Irish lessors demanding back hundreds of planes in the country currently.

Have you been affected by the crisis in Ukraine? Let us know in the comments.


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