The Wall Street Journal reports Eurocontrol has closed the Ukranian air to all civil aircraft with fighting begins, due to the “potential hazard” to all flights.
Ukrainian Airspace Closed After Airstrikes and Attacks
The airspace closure coincides with the nation declaring a state of emergency after Russian troops crossed the border around 5:00 a.m. local time. Under the Eurocontrol notice, the airspace was marked as “not available” starting around 8:50 p.m. Eastern Time, with inbound flights to the major cities of Lviv, Kyiv and Odessa stopped. Although early indicators suggested the airspace would re-open sometime Thursday, it’s unclear if that is still the goal.
Prior to the airspace closure, several airlines proactively decided to suspend operations into Ukraine with the threat of military action looming. According to Reuters, Air France/KLM, Lufthansa and SAS all decided to stop inbound flights to the nation as early as Monday, February 21, 2022.
As a result of the order, several flights were forced to turn back to their origin or find other routes avoiding both Ukraine and Belarus. El Al Airlines flights heading westbound were forced to make maneuvers around the airspace, while a LOT Polish Airlines flight was returned to Warsaw after takeoff.
Two low-cost carriers say they will continue to operate in Ukraine so long as it is safe to do so. Prior to the airspace closure, both Ryanair and Wizz Air were flying into the country with contingency plans if an act of war were to happen. It is unclear how the two carriers will move forward with the current situation.
Airspace Closure Intended to Prevent Future Civil Aviation Tragedy
The precautionary closure is intended to protect airliners and other civil aircraft from being inadvertently targeted as a result of military actions, as was the case in 2014. After fighting broke out between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatists, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over the contested eastern part of the nation. It was later confirmed a Russian Buk surface-to-air missile was used to bring down the aircraft.
Feature image courtesy: Eurocontrol
Source: frugal travel guy