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Ukraine: Qantas changes London flightpath, European countries prohibit airspaces to Russia

According to Aviation tracking site Flightradar24, Ukraine's airspace was “completely empty” by last Thursday, after airlines rushed to activate different routes to bypass the Russian inflicted war-zone.

According to Aviation tracking site Flightradar24, Ukraine’s airspace was “completely empty” by last Thursday, after airlines rushed to activate different routes to bypass the Russian inflicted war-zone.

Qantas on Sunday announced it would change the flight path of its direct Darwin to London services with the new route flying over the middle east and southern Europe rather than over Russia or Ukraine. The revised routes are expected to add around an hour to the journey.

“Given the current circumstances and complexities, we’re opting to use one of our alternative flight paths that doesn’t overfly Russia, while we continue to monitor this evolving situation,” the airline said in a statement.

KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France, said it had instructed two flights en route to Russia to turn around due to European sanctions against the country.

A spokesperson for the company said that, under the sanctions, reserve parts could no longer be sent to Russia, even for an airline’s own use.

“That means we can no longer guarantee that flights to Russia will be able to return safely”, the spokesperson said.

FlightRadar24 as of Mondy 28 February

British Airways owner IAG is now avoiding Russian airspace for overflights and cancelled its flight to Moscow on Friday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson banned Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot from Britain, CEO Luis Gallego said.

Britain has prohibited all scheduled Russian airlines from entering British airspace.

“Following the UK government decision to ban Aeroflot from landing in the UK, we have taken the decision not to use Russian airspace for overflights,” Gallego said. “We are avoiding Russian airspace for the time being.”

“The impact for us is not huge because right now we are only flying to a small number of destinations in Asia, and we can reroute our flights.”

Russia banned UK airlines from its airspace on Friday in seeming retaliation for a ban on its airlines landing in Britain in what appears to be a tit-for-tat move after Britain banned Russian flights from landing.

British Airways said it would reroute services to Asia in response.

Virgin Atlantic said the same, apologising to customers for longer flight times to countries like India and Pakistan.

QF1 en route from Darwin to London today, 28 Feb via the Middle East instead of Russia

Flight tracking apps showed planes from both carriers taking a southerly route to avoid Russia.

Airspace in Ukraine, Moldova, parts of Belarus and southern Russia has been shut since Ukraine was invaded on Thursday, 24 February.

The Czech Republic will close its airspace to Russian airlines as of Sunday, Czech public television quoted Transport Minister Martin Kupka as saying.

The step expands the ban on Russian airlines’ operation at Czech airports, announced on Friday.

Now airlines have to assess the risk of flying over Russia at all.

Japan Airlines cancelled its Thursday flight to Moscow, citing security worries.

Emirates says it has rerouted some services, leading to longer flight times.

Rising oil prices however are adding to the pain, with crude soaring above U.S$100 per barrel since fighting began, raising costs for airlines still reeling from the pandemic.