Today, two Japanese airlines, Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA), have decided to cancel all European flights due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both airlines frequently used Russian airspace on their routes between Tokyo and European cities; London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Helsinki. They operated at least 60 flights per week which involved flying over Russian airspace.

A Safety First Approach

Airlines have made this decision due to safety precautions as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine. The cancellations will significantly impact Japan’s cargo and tourism industry.

A spokesperson for JAL said in a statement to Reuters:

“We are continuously monitoring the situation, but given the present situation in Ukraine and the different risks, we have decided to cancel flights,”

ANA Cargo

ANA Cargo released a statement regarding the cancellations and outlined the affected scheduled routes. They stated on their website: 

“Please kindly be informed of the following ANA’s flight suspension between Japan and Europe due to high possibility of its operations not being able to overfly Russian territory under the current Ukraine situation.”

ANA Cargo cancelled routes © ANA Cargo
ANA Cargo cancelled routes © ANA Cargo

Reroutes

A flight that won’t be affected by the cancellations is an ANA flight between Toyko and Brussels which is due to transport vaccines back to Japan. As this route would usually require flying over Russian airspace, it will be rerouted to fly over central Asia instead.

ANA's usual flight route between Tokyo and Brussels © Flight Radar
ANA’s usual flight route between Tokyo and Brussels © Flight Radar

The rerouting of flights will result in extra flying time and, in turn, additional fuel costs and a larger carbon footprint. The need for extra aviation fuel also results in extra weight, which means less cargo can be transported per flight.

Whilst Japan hasn’t been banned from Russian airspace like most countries, they decided to take this step for the safety of all crew and customers. Do you think other airlines will join in avoiding and putting pressure on Russia? Let us know in the comments below.

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