It is expected today the European Union will announce a sweeping ban on Russian aircraft from entering the region’s airspace.

The reports come in the wake of many EU member states having already imposed bans in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Airspace blockade to the west

If the EU imposes the restrictions, Russia’s western border will almost entirely be shut off from neighbouring airspace, leaving Russian aircraft heading west with dwindling options for rerouting. With many European carriers also rerouting to avoid airspace around Moldova and Belarus, disruption in the region is widespread.

S7 Airlines A320-214
Privately-owned Russian airline S7 has cancelled all its flights to Europe | © Marco Macca / Travel Radar

Reports suggest the EU ban may also restrict European airlines from using Russian airspace, in an attempt to get ahead of a likely tit-for-tat response by Russia.

The latest restrictions to be announced include the following:

  • Italy’s Prime Minister has said it will be closing its airspace to Russian aircraft
  • The Transport Minister in Finland, bordering Russia, will be closing its airspace to all “Russian air traffic”
  • Germany has announced a three-month ban on Russian aircraft beginning on Sunday afternoon
  • The Netherlands will close its airspace Sunday evening
  • Belgium’s Prime Minister says its skies were closed for “those who seek to brutally aggress”
  • Denmark’s Foreign Minister said their country will push for an EU-wide ban and close its airspace in any case
  • Ireland has said it too backs an EU-wide ban

Some had been expecting other western regions, such as the US, to introduce similar restrictions, but there have not been any hints as of Sunday. However, the planned services that do go ahead between Russia and the US will now likely be heavily disrupted.

Bans may have long-term impact

Airlines’ ability to operate transcontinental flights has historically depended heavily on their ability to use Russian airspace, so the bans have the potential to alter routing not only in the short term but for months, if not years, depending on how soon the conflict is resolved.

How long will Russian aircraft be banned from European airspace, and vice versa? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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