Europe increasingly bans Russian flights from its airspace
Estonia, Latvia, the UK, Lithuania, Slovenia and Romania said they were banning flights from Russia.
Lithuania offers the shortest route from Russia to Kaliningrad, its Baltic enclave, which borders Lithuania and Poland. The ban will force Russian planes into a detour via the Baltic Sea.
“No flights for aggressor planes in the freedom sky,” tweeted Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte.
Germany has shut its airspace to Russian planes and Lufthansa said it cancelled all flights to Russia due to the “emerging regulatory situation.”
Germany’s transport ministry tweeted: “The Federal Minister Volker @Wissing supports the blocking of German airspace for Russian aircraft and has ordered everything to be prepared for this,” the ministry said in its post.
Russia has closed its airspace to flights from the UK, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic after they banned Russian flights.
Moscow has banned airlines from these countries from flying over its extensive territory.
Estonia’s prime minister, Kaja Kallas, urged the rest of the EU to ban Russian jets.
He tweeted: “There is no place for planes of the aggressor state in democratic skies.”
Latvia’s transport minister, Talis Linkaits tweeted: “Latvia will close its airspace to Russian-registered airlines for commercial flights.”
An Aeroflot plane heading from Moscow to Budapest on Saturday took an extra 75 minutes to reach its destination because it was forced to avoid Poland, Flightradar24 reported.
Commercial airlines are also avoiding airspace around Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus following Russia’s invasion.
Virgin Atlantic said avoiding Russia would add between 15 to 60 minutes to its flights between the UK and India and Pakistan.
By gross domestic product, Russia the 12th-largest economy in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund, about 25-per-cent smaller than Italy, which has a far smaller population.
But Russia is the globe’s biggest exporter of natural gas and one of the largest oil exporters.
Josh Lipsky of the GeoEconomics Center of the Atlantic Council think tank told Bloomberg: “Because of the energy [Russia] exports, it is systematically important and especially important to the world energy market.”
Lipsky said if Russian energy exports were banned by western governments, it would drive up oil and gas prices and benefit Russia’s economy with China buying the surpluses.
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