Japan Airlines (JAL) and ANA Holdings cancelled all flights to and from Europe on 3 March and followed up by cancelling previously rerouted flights on 4 March, primarily due to safety concerns following Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine.
Details behind the cancellations
Both JAL and ANA had a total of 16 flights scheduled for last Friday, the impacted routes including those to London, Helsinki, Paris and Frankfurt.
The major Japanese airlines normally use Russian airspace for their European routes, especially flying between Europe and north-east Asia in an efficient and popular route known as the “Great Circle”.
Under normal circumstances, JAL and ANA operate approximately 60 flights per week through Russian airspace, according to a spokesperson for flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.
These cancellations echo those made by other airlines across the world and the problems they’ve had to face due to the ban on entering Russian airspace.
Earlier this week, Finnish airline Finnair faced struggles in running routes to Asia as a consequence of the Russian invasion and having to avoid Russian airspace as a consequence.
Outside of Finnair, ANA Holdings and Japan Airlines are two of the first airlines to suffer from disruption on their routes from Asia to Europe and vice versa.
And while the effect has been felt, it is certainly reduced in comparison to Europe.
This is because many parts of Asia suffers from low demand for travel due to tight COVID-19 restrictions.
Avoiding Russian airspace – how tricky is it?
As Finnair proved earlier in the week, continuing flights to Europe while avoiding Russian airspace can prove difficult but possible.
While announcing that flights from Helsinki Airport to Tokyo would resume from 9 March, the journey would take an extra four hours than normal, and at a reduced schedule of four times a week from Helsinki and four times a week back from Tokyo.
Avoiding Russian airspace adds 1,000+ nautical miles and 150 minutes to a flight between Paris and Tokyo, and 105 minutes to a flight between Amsterdam and Beijing according to European air traffic manager Eurocontrol.
The disruption to aviation due to the conflict in Ukraine seems to be becoming an ever-growing list.
Have these disruptions affected you? Let us know.