Airspace over St. Petersburg closed amid ‘UFO’ reports
The airspace near St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, was briefly closed off on Tuesday morning due to the appearance of an unidentified flying object in the area, media have reported.
The flights were halted for around an hour before resuming in full, the city’s authorities announced on Telegram. “The airspace above St. Petersburg is open – all temporary restrictions have been lifted,” they said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the city authorities announced that Pulkovo International Airport has stopped accepting civilian flights, but didn’t reveal the reason for the move.
The Pulkovo administration said that flights will be delayed at least until noon local time (9am GMT). The airport and all its other services are operating as normal, it added.
According to Baza news outlet, jets were scrambled in the air as the so-called Kovyor (carpet) plan was activated in St. Petersburg. The plan is initiated in the event of an illegal incursion by an aircraft or UFO into the country’s airspace, according to the outlet.
Local outlet Fontanka claimed that the Defense Ministry had told Pulkovo’s administration that an unidentified flying object had been detected between 160km and 200km outside St. Petersburg. According to the procedure, the airport has to stop accepting flights in the event of such an incident.
A source told Ria-Novosti news agency that airspace around the city began reopening shortly after noon. Newspaper Kommersant reported that national air traffic regulator Rosaviatsia has told carriers that restrictions around St Petersburg have been lifted.
Data from website Flightradar24 has also suggested that planes have started to return to the airspace around the city.