Kazakhstan’s flagship carrier, Air Astana, has suspended all flights to Russia and over Russian airspace and territory because they can no longer be insured.
Air Astana said it was working closely with the government of Kazakhstan, which neighbours Russia and is a close ally, on resolving the issue.
Details behind the insurance issues
Insurance coverage to and over Russian territory was revoked as part of many sanctions imposed on the country as a consequence of its recent invasion of Ukraine.
To continue operating regardless of the sanctions, state financial guarantees (like Israel has done for its airlines operating flights to Russia) are essential.
Air Astana, in which Britain’s BAE Systems owns a 49% stake, announced the suspension on Friday in a press release on their website.
Air Astana sincerely regrets to advise that due [to] the withdrawal of insurance coverage for commercial flights to, from and over the Russian Federation, all flights to the Russian Federation are suspended with immediate effect until 13 March. Air Astana is working with [the] Government on a solution to this problem in order to be able to restore flights as soon as possible.
The airline also stated that passengers who had already purchased tickets can be refunded in full.
What does this mean for flights?
The Asian carrier’s decision means that there are currently no direct connections between Moscow and Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty.
However, Kazakh airspace currently remains open for Russian aircraft and, equally, Air Astana isn’t banned from entering Russian airspace – unlike other 36 other countries.
Regardless, Air Astana has to avoid Russian airspace. This affects flights to:
Moscow Domodedovo, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Sochi, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg.
Air Astana’s flights that would normally pass through Russian airspace, which includes all flights to Europe, will be rerouted rather than cancelled. This will add hours to the flight time, putting Air Astana through a similar issue Finnair reported last week.
The suspension comes only a few days after the UK government’s announcement that it would be implementing sanctions blocking any Russian entity from accessing the services of UK-based insurance and reinsurance companies.
As of now, there are no longer many airlines still flying over or near Russia. But a few do still remain, for now.
What do you think of this latest flight suspension to and over Russia? Have you been impacted by any Russian flight suspensions?