Air Astana Suspends All Flights To & Over Russia

Kazakhstan flag carrier Air Astana has suspended all flights to and from Russia, while flights that would typically fly right over the country have been rerouted. Reports suggest that the airline’s aircraft were no longer insured to fly in the airspace as many countries pile sanctions on Russia.

Airspace bans have seen an increasing number of airlines unable to fly within Russia, while Russian airlines have been forced to take somewhat circuitous routes to their destinations. As Kazakh airspace remains open for Russian aircraft, Air Astana isn’t banned from flying over Russia, though it seems as though aircraft insurers have forced the airline’s hand.


Canceled flights and longer routes

As a result of the inability to fly to and through Russian airspace, Air Astana’s operations are affected in two ways. First, any of the airline’s flights that are bound for Russia have been canceled. Given that they end in an area where the airline can’t fly, it’s impossible to reroute them. According to data from Cirium, this affects flights to,

  • Moscow Domodedovo
  • Novosibirsk
  • Omsk
  • Sochi
  • St Petersburg
  • Yekaterinburg

Astana Affected Routes (1)

Air Astana’s flights to Russia (red) and flights to Europe that would usually overfly Russia (blue). Photo: Cirium

The second impact is found on flights that would typically pass right through Russian airspace. On the map above, you can see grand circle routes. These are the shortest routes between two points. As you can see, due to its Geographic location, Air Astana’s flights to Europe all pass through Russia when taking the shortest route. (Note, London Heathrow flights haven’t operated since late January but are scheduled to resume tomorrow).

Rather than canceling flights, the airline is rerouting services to the south of Russia. This can add hours to the flight time. While this is a benefit for passengers looking to make the most of Air Astana’s business class throne seat, it means more fuel and thus higher costs for the airline.

Avoiding Russia for some days

As reported on Wednesday, Air Astana had already been avoiding Russian airspace for some flights. Typically, the airline’s flight from Nur-Sultan to Frankfurt would follow the shortest route, taking it through Russia and Belarus. From the start of March, the flight had been avoiding Belarusian airspace. The flight had already started to avoid Russian airspace from Wednesday, routing far south of the area.

Commenting on the situation earlier this week, the airline’s CEO Peter Foster remarked,

“The conflict in Ukraine, a country in which we have had a strong presence since 2013, is posing multiple challenges. We pray that it may be resolved soon not only for business reasons but more importantly, so that people in affected countries to which we fly can return to their normal lives.”

Not just Air Astana

It seems as though it is not just Air Astana that has felt the situation’s impact. According to the Washington Post, Turkey’s Pegasus Airlines will halt flights to Russia from Sunday. The suspension will initially last until March 27th. As has been reported with Air Astana, Pegasus has been forced into the suspension due to concerns related to insurance, reinsurance, and leasing.

Tom Boon-210

Pegasus has also canceled flights to Russia. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

What do you make of the latest wave of flight suspension to and over Russia? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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