Russia closes airspace to British planes
Russia has restricted access to its airspace to all aircraft “owned, leased, or operated by any person connected with Britain or registered in Britain,” Russia's air traffic regulators announced on Friday.
The restriction came into force at 11am Moscow time (8am GMT) and includes transit flights through Russian airspace, Rosaviatsia said. The ban was imposed in response to similar “hostile decisions” by the British leadership, the regulator said.
Britain on Thursday banned Russian flag carrier Aeroflot from flying through its airspace. It was part of a package of sanctions imposed to punish Russia for its military attack on Ukraine earlier in the day.
Rosaviatsia said it sought to conduct consultations with Britain about the move, but the request was denied, leading to Russia’s decision to reciprocate.
British Airways owner IAG said on Friday it was avoiding Russian airspace and overflights “for the time being,” Reuters reported. CEO Luis Gallego said that the impact was “not huge because right now we are only flying to a small number of destinations in Asia and we can reroute our flights.”
On Thursday morning, Russia attacked Ukraine, claiming it was the only option left to it due to NATO’s continued expansion and military presence in Ukraine, and Kiev’s failure to negotiate peace with its breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, which Moscow recognized as sovereign states on Monday.
Western nations, including the UK, condemned Russia for its move. The sanctions imposed against the country have mostly targeted its financial sector and its ability to import high-tech products.