How travel is impacted by the invasion of Ukraine


(CNN) — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused travel disruptions around the world.

In response to the EU ban, Russia’s Civil Aviation Authority announced on Monday that it had closed its airspace to carriers from 36 countries. The list also includes the UK and Canada, both of which have banned Russian planes.

Switzerland has also closed its airspace to Russia, with Russia responding with a ban on planes from Switzerland.

Last week, Ukrainian airspace closed following the Russian invasion. Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova has also closed its airspace, as has part of Belarus.

Meanwhile, the US government’s Federal Aviation Administration last week told US pilots to avoid “the whole country of Ukraine, the whole country of Belarus and western part of Russia”.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency, known as EASA, has warned of a “high risk” for civilian planes flying near the Ukrainian border.
Countries like the United States and the United Kingdom have advised their citizens to leave Ukraine, and the United States and the United Kingdom have advised against all travel to Ukraine and Russia.

Cruise lines have changed their itineraries to include Russian stops.

Here’s what we know about how travel to Eastern Europe and Russia could be impacted as a result of the conflict.

Can I still fly to Eastern Europe?

Air traffic is still moving outside of severely affected areas. Apart from Russia, Ukraine is also neighbor to Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova as shown in the map above.

The EASA doubled the size of the warning zone around Ukraine on February 25, fearing that “medium-range missiles could enter controlled airspace”.

The area extended from less than 100 nautical miles to less than 200 nautical miles from Ukraine’s border with Russia. The EASA says the expanded zone now takes into account the “risk posed by the threat of missile launches to and from Ukraine”.

All countries bordering Ukraine were already on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tier 4 list of highest-risk Covid-19 destinations for travel. The US government is also warning against travel to Belarus and Moldova due to the conflict.
Florida-based travel consultant Gwen Kozlowski, a Central European travel specialist and president of travel agency Exeter International, told CNN Travel on Feb. 24 that her agency had received questions from travelers about upcoming trips. Poland.

“We have guests traveling in late March and April to Poland, but it’s over a month away. It’s impossible to say now how that will develop. We’re basically in wait-and-see mode,” Kozlowski said per e -mail. .

Przemysłlaw Marczewski, a representative of the Polish National Tourism Organization, told CNN Travel on February 25 that “travel in Poland is smooth and the borders of the Republic of Poland with neighboring countries are not closed” .

Marczewski noted that Polish land borders with Ukraine have been opened to refugees and the travel industry supports Ukrainian citizens with temporary accommodation in hotels.

Tourists planning to visit Poland at short notice are advised to book their accommodation in advance, “because part of the hotel infrastructure may be reserved for people in need”.

Hungarian tourism officials say the country is open to visitors.

“Hungary remains a safe country and life goes on as normal here,” the Hungarian Tourism Agency said in a statement to CNN Travel. “The Hungarian government is doing everything possible to avoid becoming involved in the war and to preserve the safety of residents of Hungary and visiting tourists.”

My flight is supposed to fly over Ukrainian airspace. Will it be redirected?

This ADS-B Exchange aircraft tracker image taken at 11:15 a.m. ET on February 24 shows empty airspace over Ukraine and its border with Russia.

If you are traveling on a route that would normally pass through currently blocked airspace, the airline will reroute the flight.

“For aviation, safety is always the top priority,” said Willie Walsh, chief executive of the airline industry body of the International Air Transport Association, in a statement provided to CNN Travel on February 24. .

“IATA is helping to facilitate the relevant and timely sharing of information with airlines from government and non-government sources to support airlines in planning their operations around airspace closures in Ukraine and parts of of Russia.”

Can I still travel to Russia?

Countries like the UK and the US have issued travel warnings to Russia due to the ongoing conflict.

The US State Department issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel to Russia advisory in January and updated it on February 28 citing “the unprovoked and unwarranted attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine, the potential for harassment of U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials, the Embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia,” as well as Covid-19 and other factors.
Canadian citizens are urged to avoid non-essential travel to Russia due to the conflict and to avoid all travel within 50 kilometers of the Ukrainian border.

Current flight and airspace restrictions also make it difficult to travel to and from Russia.

EU airspace is closed to Russian aircraft, as is British, Canadian and Swiss airspace.

“These planes will no longer be able to land, take off or fly over the territory of the European Union. This will apply to any plane,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on February 28. of the EU ban on Russian airspace.

In response, Russian airspace is closed to at least 36 countries.

Delta Air Lines has suspended its codeshare with Russian flag carrier Aeroflot.

Meanwhile, popular travel writer Rick Steves, who organizes tours, announced on Thursday that he was canceling tours of Russia for the rest of the year.

“Our mission at (Rick Steves’ Europe) is to help Americans understand the world through travel,” Steves tweeted. “But when we bring travelers to Russia, we also bring their dollars – dollars that would support Putin’s aggression. We have now canceled all 2022 tours in Russia.”

Norwegian Cruise Line said it would alter cruise itineraries that include St. Petersburg, Russia, due to “the escalating situation between Russia and Ukraine,” according to a company statement.

A Norwegian spokesperson said the company was working to confirm alternate ports and would notify affected travelers.

Carnival Corporation, with more than half a dozen cruise brands, tweeted this weekend that its brands would alter routes in response to the situation in Ukraine. “We stand for peace,” the company said.

How long will travel be affected?

The situation in Ukraine is changing rapidly. It is unclear how long the airspace over Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus or Russia will be impacted.

According to the UK government’s travel advisory, restrictions on domestic flights in Russia are expected to be in place until March 2.

Top image: Passengers are seen at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow, Russia. Alexey Maishev/Sputnik via AP

CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite, Pete Muntean, Antonia Mortensen, Ivana Kottasova, Anna Chernova, Vasco Cotovio, Jennifer Deaton and Paula Newton contributed to this report


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