Air France Is Latest To Cancel Ukraine Flights Amid Rising Fears Of Russian Invasion

Topline

Air France said Monday it will cancel all its flights to and from Kyiv from Tuesday as a “precautionary measure,” becoming it the latest airline to scrap services to the Ukrainian capital amid US warnings that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent.

Key Facts

Before Air France, German carrier Lufthansa announced Saturday that it will suspend flights to Kyiv and Odessa from Monday through the end of the month.

Friday, Air India announced it would run three flights out of Kyiv next week to rescue Indians stranded in Ukraine, with additional flights planned due to “massive requests,” the Times of India reported.

Ukraine International Airlines announced Monday it had sent five Boeing aircraft to Spain after its insurers had terminated coverage for aircraft in Ukrainian airspace, though negotiation between UIA and its business partners allowed the airline to maintain service without interruption.

Ukraine’s SkyUp Airlines briefly suspended ticket sales February 13 after its insurers stopped covering aircraft in Ukrainian airspace, though SkyUp resumed sales the next day following negotiations with insurers.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced February 12 it would indefinitely suspend flights to Ukraine or through Ukrainian airspace, expanding a halt on flying over eastern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula that had been in effect since 2014.

Key Background

As over 150,000 Russian troops reportedly mass near the border and other countries seek to evacuate their nationals Ukraine, the Ukrainian government has fought to sustain air service, launching a $529 million fund February 13 to provide insurance for airlines and aircraft lessors after many private insurers withdrew coverage. If fighting breaks out between Russia and Ukraine, there’s a chance that electronic warfare technology will lead to aircraft being misidentified, increasing the risk of accidental targeting of civilian aircraft, Osprey Flight Solutions analyst Matthew Borie told Aviation International News. Airlines have often used airspace over Belarus and Ukraine while flying to Asia and the Middle East, and adjustments around these countries have increased both operating costs and flight lengths.

Tangent

In 2014, a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down over separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, killing 298. A Dutch-led joint investigative team determined that the flight had been shot down by Russia-backed separatists using a Buk missile launcher from Russia, leading the Netherlands and Australia to accuse Russia of responsibility for the incident. President Vladimir Putin denied Russian involvement and said that the joint investigative team’s findings were untrustworthy.

Further Reading

“Dutch Airline KLM Suspends Flights To Ukraine Amid Rising Fears Of Russian Invasion” (Forbes)

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