How travel is affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

(CNN) — Airspace and travel to Ukraine is currently closed following the Russian invasion.

Ukraine’s neighbor Vltava has also closed its airspace, as has part of Belarus. Meanwhile, the US government’s Federal Aviation Administration (FDA) has told US pilots to avoid “the whole country of Ukraine, the whole country of Belarus and western part of Russia”.

The UK has banned Russian civilian aircraft from entering its airspace. In response, Russia banned British planes from entering its airspace.

Some commercial airlines, including Lufthansa and Air France, had already suspended flights to Ukraine earlier this week as tensions mounted.

Several countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, have advised their citizens to leave Ukraine.

The U.S. government issued a travel advisory on Feb. 12 warning against travel to Ukraine “due to growing threats of Russian military action” as well as ongoing concerns about covid-19.

The British government has also advised against all travel to Ukraine, explaining that “trade routes out of Ukraine are likely to be severely disrupted and routes through Ukraine to be closed”.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency, known as EASA, has warned of a “high risk” for civilian planes flying near the Ukrainian border.

Here’s what we know about how travel to Eastern Europe and Russia could be affected as a result of the conflict.

Can I still take trips to Eastern Europe?

Air traffic continues to leave severely affected areas. Besides Russia, Ukraine also borders Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said “operators should exercise extreme caution” and avoid using airspace within 100 nautical miles of the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Vltava closed its airspacewhile Belarus has banned flights over part of the country.

All countries bordering Ukraine were already on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tier 4 list of highest-risk travel destinations for Covid-19. The US government is also warning against travel to Belarus and Moldova due to the conflict.

Gwen Kozlowski, a Florida-based travel consultant who specializes in Central European travel and president of travel agency Exeter International, told CNN Travel on Feb. 24 that her agency has received questions from travelers about upcoming trips to Poland. , but so far there have been no cancellations. .

“We have customers traveling in late March and April to Poland, but it’s been over a month. It’s impossible to say now how it will go. We’re basically in wait-and-see mode,” Kozlowski said via email. .

My flight is supposed to fly over Ukrainian airspace. Will it be diverted?

A photo shows a page from the Flightradar 24 website which shows civilian flights in Europe, February 24, 2022 in Nantes, western France.  - The Russian president announced a military operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, with explosions heard soon after across the country and his foreign minister warning a

(LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)

If you are traveling on a route that would normally pass through currently blocked airspace, the airline will reroute the flight.

February 24 footage from the ADS-B Exchange aircraft tracker showed empty airspace over Ukraine and its border with Russia.

“For aviation, safety is always the top priority,” Willie Walsh, chief executive of airline industry body the International Air Transport Association, said in a statement provided to CNN Travel on May 24. february.

“IATA is helping to facilitate and expedite the exchange of information with airlines from governmental and non-governmental sources to support airlines in planning their operations around the closure of airspace in Ukraine and in some parts of Russia.”

Massive global protests against Russian invasion of Ukraine 2:25

Can I still travel to Russia?

Russian airspace on the border with Ukraine is closed to civilian flights. There are also restrictions on domestic flights within Russia.

The UK banned Russian civilian aircraft from entering its airspace and over its territorial sea from February 24 to May 23. Russian airline Aeroflot usually operates direct flights between Moscow and London-Heathrow and Gatwick, according to its website.

In response, on February 25, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsia, imposed a ban on flights registered in the United Kingdom, as well as aircraft owned, leased or operated by a person associated with the United Kingdom, from transit through Russian airspace.

The U.S. State Department issued a Level 4 no-travel advisory for Russia in January citing “continued tension along the border with Ukraine, potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, limited ability to the Embassy to assist U.S. citizens in Russia,” as well as COVID -19 and other factors.

The UK’s advice to its citizens from February 24 was more specific, advising against all but essential travel to certain Russian regions bordering Ukraine. The UK government is also detailing information about increased restrictions and disruptions on Russian domestic flights, as well as warnings about increased police presence and identity checks.

Canadian citizens are advised to avoid traveling to areas of Russia bordering Ukraine.

“Most of our travelers from Russia seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach at the moment, but of course that could change depending on how events unfold,” travel agent Kozlowski told CNN Travel via email on Tuesday. Thursday, February 24.

Meanwhile, popular travel writer Rick Steves, who organizes tours in Europe, announced on Thursday that he would cancel tours of Russia for the rest of the year due to the invasion of Ukraine.

“Our mission in (Rick Steves’ Europe) is to help Americans understand the world through travel,” tweeted Steves. “But when we bring travelers to Russia, we also bring their dollars, dollars that would support Putin’s aggression. We have now canceled all 2022 tours in Russia.”

How long will travel be affected?

The situation in Ukraine is changing rapidly. It is not known how long the airspace over Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus or Russia will be affected.

According to the UK government’s travel advisory, restrictions on domestic flights in Russia are currently in place until March 2.

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