In order to fly to certain destinations in Latin America, some Russian airlines are flying previously unseen routes, including stopovers in airports like Agadir International Airport, Morocco. What has been the impact of the Western sanctions on Russian carriers? Let’s investigate further.
In the last two weeks, the European Union, Canada, the United States, and a few other countries closed their airspaces to airlines and aircraft from Russia. Aeroflot, S7, Azur Air, Nordwind, and other Russian-based airlines have already felt the impact of the prohibition. The ban was one of the many economic sanctions imposed on Russia due to the country’s current invasion of Ukraine.
Banning Russian airlines and aircraft from the European, Canadian, and American airspaces has temporarily led some carriers to ground many international flights. For instance, today, Aeroflot stopped all international flights except Minks, Belarus.
Other carriers have maintained a few international flights to countries that have not imposed travel restrictions on Russian airlines, like Mexico and Cuba. But, to keep those flights, they have had to operate longer routes, adding overall flight time, costs, layovers, and more. Let’s see a few examples.
The Russian airlines keeping their international connectivity have had to heavily reroute their flights. Photo: Getty Images.
Traveling through Morocco
Take, for instance, Azur Air’s flight ZF6680 between Moscow’s Vuknovo International Airport and Cancun International Airport in Mexico. We are using data from FlightRadar24.com for this flight.
In January 2022, Azur operated the flight onboard a Boeing 777, registration VQ-BXJ. It covered 10,023 kilometers, flying nearly 13 hours. It flew over the European Union airspace through countries like Finland, Norway, and Sweden.
Today, Azur Air is flying between Moscow and Cancun, but it is using a very different route, onboard a Boeing 767-300(ER), registration VP-BUX. The first leg of the trip was between Moscow and Agadir, Morocco. It covered 4,599 kilometers, but that flight alone took 11:04 hours. After a few hours in Agadir, the aircraft departed to Cancun, covering an additional 7,700 kilometers. Overall, the new route covers 12,299 kilometers and adds many more hours due to the layover in Morocco.
Another Azur Air flight to Latin America, ZF555 between Moscow and Varadero, didn’t have layovers. Nevertheless, it took a different route avoiding the European airspace and adding three hours of flight.
The route Kamchatka-Los Cabos
Azur Air is not the only airline that has had to reroute its flights to Mexico due to the current sanctions.
Nordwind has also had to change how it flies to certain destinations like Los Cabos, in the northwest of Mexico.
On March 8, 2022, Nordwind operated its flight N49448 onboard an Airbus A330, registration VP-BUP. The flight was not originated from your traditional location, but instead, it came from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (PKC), the administrative, industrial, scientific, and cultural center of Kamchatka Krai, Russia. The flight lasted 10:25 hours and covered 8,099 kilometers.
The British government now has the authority to remove any Russian aircraft from the UK aircraft register. Photo: Getty Images.
Repossessing the aircraft
Due to the current sanctions, leasing companies must repossess hundreds of aircraft in Russia, an enormous task filled with political and operational implications.
Despite the risk of losing its leased aircraft, Nordwind still operated the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky flight on Tuesday. The Airbus A330, registration VP-BUP, belongs to CDB Aviation, according to data provided by ch-aviation. we write risk in italics because the aircraft belongs to a lessor, so it should go back to its hands, but it seems Russian airlines are trying to avoid that through different strategies.
Nordwind did lose a Boeing 777-300ER, registration VP-BJP last week. The aircraft was parked in Mexico City.
What other extremely rerouted flights have you seen from Russian airlines in the last couple of weeks? Let us know in the comments below.
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