How travel is impacted by the invasion of Ukraine

(CNN) — Ukrainian airspace is currently closed following the Russian invasion.

The US government on Thursday extended the area near Ukraine where US pilots cannot fly. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was issuing an expanded advisory to pilots that “will now cover the whole country of Ukraine, the whole country of Belarus and a western part of Russia.”

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

Countries like the United States and the United Kingdom have advised their citizens to leave Ukraine.

The US government has issued a travel advisory on February 12 warning against travel to Ukraine “due to heightened threats of Russian military action” as well as lingering concerns over Covid-19.
The British government has also advise against all travel to Ukraineexplaining that “it is likely that trade routes out of Ukraine will be severely disrupted and routes through Ukraine may be closed.”
The European Aviation Safety Agency, known as EASA, has warned of a “high risk” civilian aircraft flying near the Ukrainian border.

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

Can I still fly to Eastern Europe?

Air traffic is still moving outside of severely affected areas. Apart from Russia, Ukraine is also neighbor to Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova as shown in the map above.

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.

There are no UK or US government warnings against travel to countries bordering Ukraine – or other Eastern European destinations – because of the conflict.

All countries bordering Ukraine were already on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tier 4 List of the Covid-19 destinations most at risk for travel.
Florida-based travel consultant Gwen Kozlowski, a Central European travel specialist and president of travel agency Exeter International, told CNN Travel on Feb. 24 that her agency had received questions from travelers about upcoming trips. in Poland, but no cancellations so far.

“We have guests traveling in late March and April to Poland, but it’s over a month away. It’s impossible to say now how that will develop. We’re basically in wait-and-see mode,” Kozlowski said per e -mail. .

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

This ADS-B Exchange aircraft tracker image taken at 11:15 a.m. ET on February 24 shows empty airspace over Ukraine and its border with Russia.

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

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

“IATA is helping to facilitate the relevant and timely sharing of information with airlines from government and non-government sources to support airlines in planning their operations around airspace closures in Ukraine and parts of of Russia.”

Can I still travel to Russia?

The US State Department has released a Level 4: Notice not to travel for Russia in January, citing “ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, potential for harassment against US citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist US citizens in Russia”, as well as the Covid -19 and other factors.
The UK’s advice to its citizens dated February 24 was more specific, advising against all but essential travel to some Russian regions at the Ukrainian border. The UK government is also detailing information about increased restrictions and disruptions to Russian domestic flights, along with warnings of increased police presence and identity checks.

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

Canadian citizens are advised to avoid travel to regions of Russia on the border with Ukraine.

“The bulk of our Russian travelers seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach right now, but, of course, that could change depending on how events unfold,” travel agent Kozlowski told CNN Travel via email.

How long will travel be affected?

The situation in Ukraine is changing rapidly. It is unclear how long the airspace over Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus or Russia will be impacted.

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

Top image: A passenger exits Platov International Airport in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Image credit: Maksim Blinov/Sputnik/AP

CNN’s Pete Muntean contributed to this report

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