Home / Travel Services / How will the Russia – Ukraine War affect flight routes, travel times and ticket prices?


The airspace of Europe has been made a no-go zone for Russian planes. In retaliation, EU carriers have been banned from Russia.

These bans, in addition to the immediate air conflict zone surrounding Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus, are increasing travel times and fuel costs for airlines.

FlightRadar24 and other tracking apps have made it easy to track the flight routes and impractical routes some airlines are forced to use to get to A to B.

The aviation industry faces many unknowns as the war continues. It is uncertain when and if passengers will start to pay the higher costs. What toll sanctions are taking on Russia. And what the effects on global businesses who rely on cargo flights.

The following is a summary of what experts in aviation and agencies understand are the implications:

What have been the effects on flight paths so far?

Finnair, Finland’s flag carrier, describes itself as “the shortcut to Europe and Asia” after Russia banned flights from Russia due to its vast land mass.

As the airline assesses other routes, it cancelled services to Japan, Korea, and China. Finnair warned of “significant financial consequences.” Finnair flights still fly to Bangkok, Singapore and Phuket, but take an additional hour to get there.

The ban also affected British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, two of the UK’s largest airlines. According to the company, Virgin flights that fly Russia frequently – including routes from Heathrow, Islamabad, Lahore, and Delhi – now have flight times between 15 and 60 minutes.

Eurocontrol, the air traffic coordinator of the bloc, stated that “there are usually around 90 flights per day by EU carriers overflying Russia.”

It states that aircraft operators will decide whether or not to continue operating such flights. Additional flight distances may be required in the event of a diversion to the south of Russia.

To avoid Russia’s airspace, a flight from Frankfurt to Beijing would require an additional 700 nautical miles (1,300 km), while the distance from Helsinki to Tokyo would take over 2,000 (3700 km) nautical miles.

Finnair uses Airbus planes which burn around 3,000 litres per hour of jet fuel. Although it is difficult to estimate the exact increase in CO2 emissions from the global detours, the IPCC report shows that the climate cannot afford additional pollution.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict will lead to an increase in plane ticket prices.

John Gradek, an aviation expert at McGill University in Canada, estimates that an extra hour of flight and the fuel consumed will add between EUR8,000 and EUR15,000 to a journey. This would add up to EUR100 per person in a full-sized plane.

It is uncertain how long airlines will be able to absorb the extra cost without passing it on to consumers. Gradek predicts that carriers may introduce fuel surcharges if the war lasts for 30-60 days. This is what happens when fuel prices rises and there are times of turmoil.

This price rise can be avoided by buying your tickets early. Robert Mann, an aviation analyst, says that airlines cannot pass on any additional fees for tickets purchased already. However, some airlines may try to increase fares or fees on future purchases.

Are Russian domestic flights at risk because of airspace sanctions?

Aeroflot, Russia’s flag carrier is no longer welcome in Europe.

Russian Federation holds more than half the airline’s shares, making it extremely unlikely that it will go out of business. However, the country’s secondary airline S7 Airlines may be at risk. Gradek allows the company to bankrupt within 45-60 days if conflict continues.

He says, “Two months for S7 and it’ll a significantly shrunken Aeroflot which stays beyond that.”
Aeroflot’s greatest weakness is its large number of leased aircraft. A plane can be registered in one country and then owned by another company which leases it to a Russian airline. Gradek, who is a CH-Aviation expert, estimates that less than 75%, or around 770, of the 1000 Russian aircraft, actually belong to foreign owners.

All planes must be repatriated via leasing companies, according to sanctions imposed by countries ranging from Austria to the UK.

Gradek states that the Russian commercial jet fleet will be affected. Because there are no planes left to fly, flights will be cancelled. This includes domestic Russian flights.

He explained that this will result in a significant decrease in commercial aviation operations within Russia’s boundaries.

Are Russians allowed to fly out of Russia?

Aeroflot’s difficulties don’t prevent Russians and other Russian citizens from traveling in and out Russia.

Russian planes are still allowed to fly to the Middle East and Doha. Russia has strong economic ties with the Middle East so it is unlikely that Russia will ban its planes from its airspace. Before transferring to a transit airport in Russia, passengers must take an Aeroflot flight (or Qatar, Emirates or any other airline allowed into Russia).

There are many ways to fly from there, but it is more difficult.

Are the US going to ban Russian planes in its airspace?

Canada on Sunday banned Russian aircraft from its airspace, and on Tuesday 2nd March, the US announced their ban.

Omar Alghabra, Transport Minister of Oman, tweeted that Russia would be held responsible for unprovoked attacks on Ukraine.

Aeroflot cancelled all flights to America, even before the US ban was announced. This was due to Canadian airspace being closed. According to the Russian news agency Tass, there will not be any flights from Moscow to LA, Miami or New York until March 2, at the earliest.

Some American airlines also took action. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines ended a code-sharing agreement with Aeroflot on Friday 25 February. This partnership allowed customers to book flights using both airlines.

Gradek claims that there would not be any operational impact on flights between the countries if the US imposed a ban on Russian planes. The closure of airspace would be more symbolic.

Businesses that depend on cargo flights from Russia such as Boeing could see the biggest impacts. Boeing, the aerospace company, heavily relies on titanium from Russia for its jet engines. Alaska is also a key hub for trans-Pacific cargo flights.

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