British Airways has cancelled its daily flight from London Heathrow to Moscow and will avoid using Russian airspace for any other flight that would normally route over Russian territory.
The decision by British Airways to steer clear of Russia came a day after the UK government imposed sanctions on Russian flag carrier Aeroflot and banned any scheduled Russian flight from flying through British airspace.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened tit-for-tat sanctions against any country that imposes sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. A like-for-like ban on British carriers was announced by Russian officials on Friday morning.
“A restriction was introduced on the use of the airspace of the Russian Federation for flights of aircraft owned, leased or operated by a person associated with the UK or registered in the UK, to points in the territory of the Russian Federation, including transit flights through the airspace of the Russian Federation,” the Federal Air Transport Agency announced.
Luis Gallego, chief executive of British Airways parent company IAG confirmed the decision to avoid Russia as the airline group announced its annual financial results.
“Following the UK government decision to ban Aeroflot from landing in the UK, we have taken the decision not to use Russian airspace for overflights. We are avoiding Russian airspace for the time being,” Gallego told reporters.
British Airways would commonly overfly Russia for flights to the Far East but most of these routes are still suspended or infrequent due to continuing pandemic restrictions.
Gallego said he was confident that British Airways could reroute flights if necessary.
British Airways flight BA880 to Moscow was expected to depart London Heathrow at 8:20 am on Friday morning but the service was cancelled at the last minute. On Thursday, Japan Airlines also said it would cancel its service from Tokyo to Moscow because it could not confirm the safety of the flight.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.