France, Germany and the Nordic countries – Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland – are joining the growing list of countries who closed their airspace to Russian aviation following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“France is shutting its airspace to all Russian aircraft and airlines from this evening on,” tweeted French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari. “To the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Europe responds with total unity.”
Djebbari’s words echoed those of ministers from different EU countries, including Swedish EU minister Hans Dahlgren, who said it was “absolutely necessary to proceed with further touch measures to isolate Russia.”
The countries are the latest to agree to the ban after several others – including the UK, Poland and Czech Republic – implemented similar measures.
Despite the heavy economic ties with Russia, Germany decided to close its airspace to Russia for three months, starting from today at 2pm.
“After more than 75 years of peace, we are now at war again in Europe. Putin will go down in human history as a warmonger and aggressor.” said German transport minister Volker Wissing.
“As the federal government, we will stand by Ukraine and do everything we can to help people who are experiencing such suffering.”
As more countries such as Spain and Portugal have set out limitations, a EU-wide ban could be part of a newest round of sanctions that will be discussed later today by the bloc’s foreign ministers.
“At today’s meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs we will push for an EU-wide ban,” tweeted Danish foreign affairs minister Jeppe Kofod. “Russia’s unprovoked, despicable attack on Ukraine must be met with strongest possible international sanctions and condemnation.”
Following the government’s decision on Thursday to ban Aeroflot from its airspace and the consequent Russian retaliation, UK airlines such as Virgin Atlantic have had to adjust, rerouting flights to avoid Moscow’s airspace.
“Our flight paths will continue to be adjusted for someVirgin Atlantic passenger services between the UK, Pakistan and India,” said a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson. “We apologise for any inconvenience caused to customers by slightly longer flight times.”
Flights between Heathrow and Islamabad, Delhi and Lahore as well as the Manchester-Islamabad route are no longer flying over Russia, leading to increase in flight times between 15 and 60 minutes.
Cargo-only flights between Heathrow and Shanghai will also be suspended.