The activity by Russia’s largest state-owned airline comes after the country’s aviation agency, Rosaviatsiya, who recommended that all Russian airlines with foreign-leased aircraft halt both passenger and cargo flights abroad.
International flights except to Belarus
Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship carrier, has declared that it will halt all international flights except to Belarus beginning March 8.
Rosaviatsiya’s recommendation does not apply to Russian airlines that use Russian planes or foreign planes that are not at danger of being impounded. It also does not apply to foreign airlines from nations that have not imposed sanctions on Russia and have not shut down their airspace for Russian planes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
An Aeroflot statement on the “temporary suspension of all international flights from March 8” cited new “circumstances that impede the operation of flights”. It noted all domestic routes would resume unchanged, as well as flights to Belarus, whose leader Alexander Lukashenko is a near ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia’s biggest state-owned airline also said it would revoke return tickets for passengers who are scheduled to leave Russia after March 6 and travel back after March 8. Those with one-way tickets will be allowed to fly up until March 8.
Rosaviatsia also recommended Russians seeking to back home from foreign countries arrange flights transiting through countries that had not joined sanctions, such as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Serbia.
Earlier this week, another Russian carrier, S7, declared the suspension of all its international flights due to sanctions imposed on Russia over the country’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The budget airline Pobeda – a subsidiary of Aeroflot – also told it will be halting international flights from March 8. The airline sector was one of the first to be impacted by the economic fallout from the war.
Russian carrier Aeroflot was banned from the airspace of the entire EU, the United Kingdom, and Canada, forcing it to suspend flights to these destinations.
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In retaliation ,Ukraine has banned airlines from those same countries from flying over its territory.
Putin, who on Saturday stayed at an Aeroflot training center outside the capital, Moscow, tells his aims in Ukraine are to defend Russian-speaking communities through the “demilitarisation and de-Nazification” of the country so that it becomes neutral.
Ukraine and Western countries
Ukraine and Western countries have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for the invasion and have imposed harsh sanctions aimed at isolating Moscow.
“These sanctions that are being imposed are akin to a declaration of war but thank God it has not come to that,” Putin said Aeroflot staff.
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