Diversion due to closure of Russian airspace: Are planes flying a large curve around Russia?

As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the airspace of the Netherlands and other EU Member States is closed to Russian aircraft. This means that Russian airlines cannot fly to and from Schiphol. In response to this, Russia has closed its airspace to European Union countries. The planes of European airlines, like KLM and Air France, are therefore not allowed to fly over Russia. What consequences does this have for flights to countries like China and Japan?

Flying around Russia

Flights that would usually fly in Russian airspace now need to take a different route. This means that your flight from Schiphol to northern Asia will take longer. The most favourable route to these destinations normally takes planes over Northern Russia and Siberia. Now, aircraft must take the southern route over Turkey and the Middle East, or they must fly over the North Pole via Alaska. These routes take longer and therefore require more fuel.

Closure of airspace

Closing airspace to civil aviation happens more often than you might think. It may be due to safety concerns, like in 2019 when Pakistan closed its airspace after three fighter planes were brought down. And during the coronavirus pandemic, Morocco closed its airspace to prevent foreign travellers from spreading COVID-19. The closure of the airspace to Russian aircraft is a financial sanction effectuated by the European Union. The aim is to hit the Russian economy by not allowing free movement of passengers and goods.

Is there still air traffic?

Despite the airspace closure, there may be instances where aircraft still fly from Schiphol to Russia. That could be because an airline is welcome in both European and Russian airspace. For example, a Chinese airline flew from Schiphol to Moscow last week. Schiphol, together with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, is appealing to the airlines not to make use of this option.

If you have any questions about your flight

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