Ukraine: Airlines adjusting flight schedules amid standoff with Russia

FILE PHOTO: Lufthansa planes at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport in Schoenefeld
FILE PHOTO: Lufthansa aircraft are seen at Terminal 1 of the new Berlin-Brandenburg Airport ‘Willy Brandt’ in Schoenefeld near Berlin, Germany, October 29, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

February 21, 2022

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said on Monday that about 10 airlines had adjusted their scheduled flights to Ukraine amid tensions with Russia but said its air corridors were still open and flying to the East European country remained safe.

Germany’s Lufthansa said it was halting flights to Ukraine from Monday, joining KLM which already suspended flights.

Scandinavian airline SAS also suspended weekly flights while Air France has decided to cancel its Tuesday flights between Paris and Kyiv as a “precautionary measure” on the back of rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

“The current cancellation of flights by a number of foreign airlines is dictated solely by the information aggravation of the situation, and not by real changes in flight safety,” Oleksander Kubrakov told a news briefing.

He did not name the airlines and said that “the state is working to replace cancelled flights”.

Kubrakov said Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) had already opened ticket sales and increased the capacity of aircraft on additional flights from Kyiv to Munich and Geneva which Lufthansa was unable to operate.

Two Ukrainian airlines last week disclosed problems in securing insurance for some of their flights while foreign carriers began avoiding the country’s airspace as Russia masses a huge military force on its border.

UIA said it had received the notification from its insurers as experts said more airlines were expected to avoid Ukraine’s airspace after a U.S. warning that Moscow could invade its neighbour any time.

Russia and Ukraine both hinted at fresh diplomatic efforts to avoid conflict on Monday, but Ukraine’s biggest airline said its insurers had already terminated cover for at least some of its aircraft on flights inside Ukrainian airspace.

However, international airlines are not pulling out due to lack of insurance, said Bruce Carman, chief underwriting officer at Hive Aero in London.

“We continue to support many airlines that fly into the region.”

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; additional reporting by Carolyn Cohn in London; editing by Jason Neely)

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