Russia Closes British Airlines from Its Airspace

The Russian civil aviation regulator has issued a ban on British airlines arriving at Russian airports and crossing its airspace.

The move was a response to “unfriendly decisions by the UK aviation authority,” according to Russia. The UK prohibited Russia’s official airline, Aeroflot, from landing in the country on Thursday, reports BBC.

The move was part of a slew of measures imposed in the aftermath of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ben Wallace, the UK’s defence secretary, told ITV: “That, I believe, is their reprisal for our decision yesterday to prohibit Aeroflot from flying into and landing in the United Kingdom. Their tit for tat response is this.”

“This measure was taken in accordance with the provisions of the Intergovernmental Air Services Agreement between Russia and the United Kingdom as a response to unfriendly decisions by the United Kingdom aviation authorities regarding the restriction on regular flights of aircraft owned, leased, or operated by a person associated with Russia or registered in Russia,” Russia’s civil aviation authority Rosaviatsia said.

In a statement, British Airways said it was alerting customers of cancelled flights and would issue full reimbursements. “We regret the inconvenience, but this is plainly beyond our control,” the airline added. “We will continue to keep a careful eye on the situation.”

Between London and Moscow, British Airways typically runs three flights each week each direction. Following Russia’s statement, Virgin Atlantic stated several of its flights between the UK, Pakistan, and India had been rerouted. Flight times will be increased by 15 minutes to an hour on some routes.

“The safety and security of our customers and people always comes first,” Virgin Atlantic said, “and we’re monitoring the situation in Ukraine and Russia extremely carefully following the escalation of war.”

Flightradar24 data revealed that BA and Virgin Atlantic flights connecting Delhi, Islamabad, and London take southern paths to avoid Russian airspace. Aeroflot and British Airways were the sole carriers flying passengers between the UK and Russia over the last week, according to data source Cirium.

There were 24 passenger flights scheduled between the UK and Russia in the last seven days. Between London Heathrow and Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport, Aeroflot had 16 flights scheduled, while British Airways had eight. In January, 93 passenger flights were scheduled between the United Kingdom and Russia.

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