Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Japan Airlines Co Ltd and ANA Holdings Inc announced that they will postpone all flights to and from Europe on Thursday. The airlines cited safety concerns.
The airlines, who typically fly through Russian airspace for their flights to Europe, have joined an increasing list of airlines that have cancelled or redirected flights between Europe and north Asia as a result of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa.
“We are closely following the situation, but given the current situation in Ukraine and the many hazards, we have decided to cancel flights,” a representative for Japan Airlines told Reuters.
According to the company’s website, the suspension of flights was prompted by the “strong chance that its operations would not be permitted to overfly Russia as a result of the present Ukraine scenario.”
Russian airlines have been barred from entering Russian airspace as a result of the EU and Canada’s restrictions on Russian airlines, but Japan has not issued a comparable decision as of yet.
According to a spokeswoman for flight monitoring service FlightRadar24, ANA and JAL fly around 60 flights each week over Russian airspace between Tokyo and cities such as London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Helsinki, among other destinations.
Following the loss of access to Russian airspace, Finnair initially canceled its Tokyo flights. However, the airline announced on Wednesday that it would resume four weekly Helsinki-Tokyo flights, but with a new route and a flight time of 13 hours, an increase from the previous flight time of around 9.5 hours.
Longer routes taken by airlines will increase fuel prices and reduce the quantity of cargo that can be transported in a tight market for air freight, which is worsening pandemic-related challenges in the global supply chain already in place.
According to Reuters’ monitoring of FlightRadar24, Korean Air Lines was still flying across Russian territory on Thursday, but Taiwanese airlines are reportedly avoiding Russian airspace and going over China and central Asia instead.
ANA also said that it will cancel eight flights on Friday, including those to and from London, Paris, and Frankfurt.
According to the airline, a Tokyo-Brussels flight scheduled to transport vaccinations on the return leg will be routed across Central Asia, and all cargo planes will run.