The UK’s Foreign Office (FCDO) has warned that commercial air routes could be “severely disrupted” as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine launched today.
Russia has launched a “major” military assault on Ukraine with reports of missile strikes and explosions in major cities including capital Kyiv.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps tweeted to say he has instructed the Civil Aviation Authority to “ensure airlines avoid Ukraine airspace to keep passengers and crew safe”.
He added: “We continue to stand with the people of Ukraine and work with our international partners to respond to this act of aggression.”
The FCDO confirmed “Ukraine’s airspace is closed” and also warned UK nationals not to cross to Ukraine from bordering states including Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Belarus and Russia.
#Ukraine Further update on travel – Ukraine’s airspace is closed. It is likely that commercial routes out of Ukraine will be severely disrupted and roads across Ukraine could be closed. https://t.co/EQhklXL5ucpic.twitter.com/KaJV3jD64n
— FCDO Travel Advice (@FCDOtravelGovUK) February 24, 2022
It said Russian authorities announced restrictions on domestic flights to a number of airports in southern Russia today, with disruption to internal flights to and from Moscow and other cities. Restrictions are expected to be in place until March 2, and the FCDO urged UK travellers in Russia to check the latest information with their airline or travel provider.
Aviation analytics firm Cirium said all four flights scheduled to fly from the UK to Ukraine today were cancelled. There were 44 flights between the UK and Ukraine between February 18 to February 23, it said.
Globally, Cirium said 155 flights to and from the Ukraine were cancelled by 13:30 on February 24. A total of 212 flights to and from the Ukraine since February 18 have been cancelled. The majority were between Ukraine and Russia (33 flights cancelled), Poland (25), and Germany (15).
Cirium said 1,792 flights flew to or from the Ukraine, globally, since February 18.
Wizz Air, which is headquartered in Hungary, has temporarily suspended all flight operations in Ukraine.
Courtesy of Flightradar24.com
A spokesperson said: “Due to the current events in Ukraine and the airspace closure, Wizz Air regrets to inform our customers that the airline must temporarily suspend all flight operations in the country.
“The safety and security of our passengers and crew remains our number one priority and we hope normality will to return to Ukraine soon.”
British Airways’ 08:20 flight from Heathrow to Moscow was delayed to 09:39. It’s 15:00 service is scheduled to go ahead as planned.
Speciaist tour operator Regent Holidays has offered its customers with bookings to Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Moldova the option to rebook or cancel trips up to May 31.
Yesterday Ukraine launched a state of emergency, and the FCDO advised British nationals to “leave Ukraine immediately if you judge that it is safe”.
“If you cannot leave safely, stay indoors and remain alert,” the FCDO warned.
The FTSE100 index plunged by 2.7% following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and following Nato countries imposing sanctions. The UK’s junior UK Foreign Minister James Cleverly told the BBC that Ukrainians “should know that the UK stands with them”.
He said the UK would be providing “direct assistance” to Ukraine in the defence of their country.
“This has long been planned by Vladimir Putin. This is an invasion and it is completely unprovoked and unjustified.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned Vladimir Putin for “bringing war back to Europe”.
She said a “massive” package of sanctions will be proposed later in a bid to weaken Russia’s economic base and its “capacity to modernise”.
Picture credit: Tomasz Makowski / Shutterstock