How conflict disrupts air travel

One of five Ukrainian Boeign 737-800 aircraft that landed yesterday at Castellon Airport in the face of the political situation in Ukraine and Russia, on February 15, 2022 in Castellon, Valencian Community, Spain.

Carme Repulse | Europa Press | Getty Images

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week has ruptured the air travel industry, leading to the imposition of no-fly zones and other restrictions.

Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights moments before Russia invaded early Thursday, choking off an exit point.

Discount airline Wizz Air said Friday it was trying to evacuate crews stranded in Ukraine.

“We are still working hard to get them out at the earliest opportunity,” spokeswoman Kristi Rawlings said in an emailed statement. “We are in regular contact with all crew members and can confirm that many of them have been able to get out of the country via ground transportation. The majority of our staff residing there are Ukrainian citizens.”

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Lufthansa Group had previously suspended flights to Ukraine.

KLM told CNBC Friday that it will also cut some of its flights to Russia so that its crews don’t have to stay overnight.

No-fly zones for aircraft have been extended to Moldova and parts of eastern Russia. Several airlines have avoided eastern Russia since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian missile there in 2014.

FlightRadar24, an online flight tracker, does not show any planes flying over Ukraine after the Russian attack.

Igor Golovniov | Light Rocket | Getty Images

The backlash to the Russian invasion included British officials who prevented Russian airline Aeroflot from landing there, leading to retaliation from Russia banning British airlines from using its airspace.

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Some airlines were rerouting aircraft around the potential conflict zone in the days before the invasion.

“Any diversions that aircraft have to make around the no-fly zone will increase fuel costs,” said Bruce Chan, logistics analyst at Stifel.

The higher costs come at a time when airlines are already struggling with rising fuel prices.

United Parcel Service I started flying a more southern route around Ukraine last week.

“While this alternative routing adds additional flight time, we feel this is a viable alternative to continue providing safe and efficient operations,” the airline said in a letter to pilots on February 21. We give you additional updates when we receive them.”

A spokesperson told CNBC that some international carriers have inquired about the availability of fuel and ground support at Anchorage, Alaska, a major cargo airport. The questions are a sign that airlines are developing contingency plans in the event that more Russian airspace is closed to them.

Delta AirlinesOn the other hand, she said on Friday Suspended its common code agreement With Aeroflot, allowing airlines to reserve seats on each other’s flights.

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