Dutch flag carrier KLM diverted two flights bound for Moscow and St Petersburg on Saturday after the airline realised that the multi-million-dollar aircraft might be left stranded on the ground in Russia.
While other airlines have quickly suspended flights to Russia, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has been continuing to fly between its home in Amsterdam to the Russian Federation despite President Vladimir Putin’s indiscriminate attack on Ukraine.
On Saturday, the carrier sent two Boeing 737 aircraft to Russia – KLM flight KL903 was bound for Moscow, while KL1395 was four hours into its flight to St Petersburg when it was suddenly recalled back to the Netherlands.
The airline admitted that it only became aware that it would have no way of obtaining spare parts for the aircraft should there be a technical problem after the flights departed Amsterdam.
The European Commission has slapped Putin’s regime with some of the toughest economic sanctions ever witnessed, including a ban on exporting aircraft spare parts into the country.
KLM is barred from doing business with local aircraft repair shops under the sanctions and wouldn’t be allowed to send spare parts from Amsterdam should one of its planes need a repair.
The realisation came so late that flight 908 was already on approach to Moscow and didn’t have enough fuel to get all the way back to Amsterdam. The flight diverted to Copenhagen where it refuelled and then continued its return journey to the Netherlands.
The Dutch government hasn’t followed the lead of the UK who barred Russian aircraft from its airspace and was promptly hit with a reciprocal ban on British airlines overflying Russia.
The threat of a tit-for-tat airspace ban didn’t, however, dissuade a slew of European countries from banning Russian airlines from their airspace, including Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovenia.
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.