The Dutch flag carrier KLM announced yesterday that it is suspending all flights to Ukraine until further notice. The announcement was swiftly actioned upon last night’s scheduled flight to Kyiv being immediately cancelled.
The announcement comes in the wake of increasing tensions between the West and Russia and marks the first withdrawal of services by a major airline. The now questioned security of Ukraine relates, in particular, to concerns that Russia is preparing to mount an attack on its westerly neighbour.
Airlines reducing services in Ukraine
Whilst the withdrawal of services entirely is the most drastic step taken by an airline, the industry has witnessed a reduction in services by several other companies operating in the region. Last month, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, and Swiss Airlines reworked their flight schedules so that crews would not be required to stay in the country overnight. Irish low-cost airline Ryanair has also reduced the number of flights operating to and from the country.
Traumatic history with Ukraine
Some believe the announcement by KLM will certainly signal similar moves by other European airlines in future. Still, others have noted that the Netherlands may be particularly cautious on the subject of Ukraine, given its traumatic past. A Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all on-board, including 196 Dutch citizens. Both the Ukrainian and Dutch governments agree that Russian-backed separatists in the region were responsible for shooting down the plane with a Russian-made surface-to-air missile.
While Ukraine continues to try to maintain its level head, the announcement will undoubtedly come as another headache for citizens wishing to visit their European neighbours. But with rumours that Lufthansa is also considering a suspension of flights, this may indicate that transport links will continue to go from bad to worse in the region.
Does KLM’s announcement bode well for Ukrainian air travel? Let us know what you think in the comments below.