Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air confirmed on Monday that it would suspend all flights to Moldova over rising fears that air space over the landlocked Eastern European nation which borders Ukraine could be unsafe due to increasing tensions with Russia.
The budget airline said it would ground flights to Moldova’s capital Chisinau from March 14 due to what it described as an “elevated but not imminent” security threat.
Wizz Air currently serves Chisinau from five European countries, including Austria, Czechia, Germany, Italy and Spain. In a statement, the airline said it would lay on additional flights to the Romanian city of Lasi, close to the Moldovan border.
Nonetheless, Moldova’s civil aviation regulator was critical of Wizz Air’s decision, deriding it as causing “uncertainty” and claiming that flights could be operated safely so long as airlines followed set procedures.
“Safety of the passengers and crew remain Wizz Air’s number one priority and following the recent developments in Moldova and the elevated, but not imminent, risk in the country’s airspace, Wizz Air has made the difficult but responsible decision to suspend all flights to Chisinau from the 14th of March,” the full statement from the airline explained.
In recent weeks, several Russian missiles aimed at Ukraine have entered Moldovan airspace, and the local government has accused the Kremlin of trying to destabilise Moldova.
Moldova’s internal security service recently accused Russia of trying to overthrow the pro-EU government. A series of public protests have been blamed on Russian meddling.
Wizz Air faced criticism at the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after it failed to get its staff and aircraft out of the country in the days before the Russian army entered Ukraine.
Ultimately, Wizz Air was forced to employ security experts to evacuate staffers out of the country under cover of darkness. It took many more months to get one of its stranded aircraft out of the Ukrainian city of Lviv to safety in Poland.
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.