Fears in Aviation over Russian-Ukraine tension

Fears in Aviation over Russian-Ukraine tension

Fears have increased in the Aviation industry amongst Western States over Russian-Ukraine tension.

Amid such fears; airlines have continued halting flights to Countries  like Ukraine, Russia, Belarus;  and a host of nearby States that Russian aggression could affect.

Airlines and leasing companies that control billions of dollars worth of passenger jets; are drawing up contingency plans for a freeze in business with Russia; if the standoff on Ukraine’s border boils over into a military conflict.

Aviation bosses are worried about the impact on dealings with Russian companies.

Sanctions could disrupt payments to leasing firms; and any retaliatory move by Moscow to restrict access to Russian airspace might throw east-west trade into chaos.

“We are expecting an asymmetrical Russian response,” said a Western source involved in drawing up scenarios; adding the West was unlikely to restrict its own airspace first.

US officials have warned that Moscow could launch an attack on Ukraine after amassing more than 100,000 troops close to its neighbor’s border, with the West preparing heavy sanctions.

Also read: Russia to face pressure at UN over Ukraine crisis, says US


Tensions over Ukraine have raise concerns that thousands of transit flights over Russia may stop.

Air corridors between parts of Europe or North America and Asia stretch across Russia; making its 26 million square km of airspace; a vital trade intersection.

Without access to Russia’s airways, experts say airlines face having to divert flights south while avoiding areas of tension in the Middle East; adding significant cost at a time when airlines are reeling from the pandemic.

According to reports, the crisis has resurrected the Cold War prospect of European jets heading over North America to refuel in Anchorage; then dropping down to destinations such as Tokyo; pushing the economics of such flights to the limit.

“The scenario is a reminder that Russia’s size and position on the aviation map; gives it leverage not available to the Soviet Union when economies were less integrated,” according to Elisabeth Braw; a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

“So far, Moscow hasn’t threatened to revoke overflight rights, but knows it has a phenomenal weapon at its disposal,” Braw wrote in Defense One last month.

Experts say the impact on crucial Russian overflights is hard to predict

“Every one of those operations requires advance clearance and that’s not always routinely granted. And there’s every reason to believe that if things got serious some of those requests could just go unanswered,” analyst Robert Mann said.

Russia’s 8000 air traffic controllers handled about 194,296 transit flights; or 532 overflights a day on average in 2021.

Analysts say Russia earns significant fees from overflights.

“If there is an emergency, we have no choice but to avoid Russia and fly the southern route,” said Yuji Hirako; president and chief executive of All Nippon Airways Co Ltd.

“Since the demand for international flights is so low due to the coronavirus pandemic, we may choose not to fly in the event of an emergency.”


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