Ukraine invasion: Russia bans British airlines from its airspace

The Russian civil aviation regulator has issued a ban on British airlines arriving at Russian airports and crossing its airspace.

The move was a response to “unfriendly decisions by the UK aviation authority,” according to Russia.

The UK prohibited Russia’s official airline, Aeroflot, from landing in the country on Thursday.

The move was part of a slew of measures imposed in the aftermath of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ben Wallace, the UK’s defence secretary, told media: “That, I believe, is their reprisal for our decision yesterday to prohibit Aeroflot from flying into and landing in the United Kingdom. Their tit for tat response is this.”

The measure was adopted “in response to unfriendly decisions by the UK aviation authorities about the ban on regular flights of aircraft owned, leased, or operated by a person linked with Russia or registered in Russia,” according to Russia’s civil aviation body, Rosaviatsia.

In a statement, British Airways said it was alerting customers of cancelled flights and would issue full reimbursements.

“We regret the inconvenience, but this is plainly beyond our control,” the airline added.

Between London and Moscow, British Airways typically runs three flights each week each direction.

Following Russia’s statement, Virgin Atlantic stated several of its flights between the UK, Pakistan, and India had been rerouted. Flight times will be increased by 15 minutes to an hour on some routes.

“The safety and security of our customers and people always comes first,” Virgin Atlantic said, “and we’re monitoring the situation in Ukraine and Russia extremely carefully following the escalation of war.

Virgin Atlantic’s four-times-weekly cargo-only flights between London Heathrow and Shanghai have also been cancelled.

Flightradar24 data revealed that BA and Virgin Atlantic flights connecting Delhi, Islamabad, and London take southern paths to avoid Russian airspace.

Only Aeroflot and British Airways, according to data supplier Cirium, have flown people between the UK and Russia in the last week.

There were 24 passenger flights scheduled between the UK and Russia in the last seven days.

In January, 93 passenger flights between the two nations were scheduled.

Manchester United’s sponsorship arrangement with Aeroflot has been ended, dealing further blow to the Russian carrier.

Since 2013, Aeroflot had been United’s official carrier, and the latest agreement was set to last through 2023.

United’s contract was renewed in 2015, with a five-year renewal said to be worth $40 million (£29.9 million).

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