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UK Banning Russia Flag Carrier From Its Airspace Over Ukraine Conflict

  • The UK has banned all flights from Russia’s state-owned airline, Aeroflot.
  • Further restrictions from UK’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, ban all Russian airlines from flying in UK airspace.
  • English soccer team Manchester United has also cut ties with Aeroflot over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has banned all flights by Russian flag carrier Aeroflot from flying in the country’s airspace.

In a statement posted by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Thursday, the country has restricted flights from Aeroflot by suspending its foreign carrier permit, reported Reuters.

“This means that Aeroflot will not be permitted to operate flights to or from the United Kingdom until further notice,” the UK CAA said.

Further restrictions have also been put in place to target all scheduled Russian airlines, Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport of the UK, announced on his Twitter.

Founded in 1923, state-owned Aeroflot is Russia’s national airline. The carrier has a large domestic and international network operating out of its base at Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport.

Aeroflot is part of the SkyTeam Alliance, which also includes US-based Delta Air Lines, and flies to over 150 destinations worldwide, including London. Before the ban, the airline flew daily between Moscow and England’s capital.

President Joe Biden did not announce plans to ban Aeroflot from operating in the US in Thursday’s televised address. The Russian carrier currently serves four destinations in the US, including New York City, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Miami, according to the airline’s website.

Also cutting ties with Aeroflot is the English premier league soccer team, Manchester United. The team has sponsored the flag carrier since 2013 and renewed the £40 million ($53.5 million) deal in 2017.

he Manchester United squad pose with CEO of Aeroflot Vitaly Saveliev and representatives from Aeroflot after the press conference to announce Aeroflot as new Manchester United club partners at Old Trafford on July 8, 2013 in Manchester, England

The Manchester United squad pose with CEO of Aeroflot Vitaly Saveliev and representatives from Aeroflot at Old Trafford on July 8, 2013 in Manchester, England.

John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images


However, the team’s CEO, Richard Arnold, said he wants to distance the organization from Russia and has no plans to continue the partnership with Aeroflot, according to Sports Illustrated entity FanNation.

On Wednesday, the team was supposed to fly on Aeroflot to their game against Atletico Madrid in Spain but instead flew on alternative carrier Titan Airways, reported media company Mirror.

The move to ban Aeroflot is part of Johnson’s “largest-ever” package of sanctions against Russia. According to The Guardian, this includes suspending the country’s use of the Swift international payment systems, freezing Russian bank assets, and sanctioning over 100 individuals and entities, like Vladimir Putin’s former son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov, and Denis Bortnikov, the chair of VTB Bank’s management board.

“These are people who have international lifestyles,” a diplomatic source told The Guardian. “They come to Harrods to shop, they stay in our best hotels when they like, they send their children to our best public schools, and that is what’s being stopped.”

Since the Russian invasion, Ukraine has closed its airspace to all commercial flights. On Thursday, the country announced the restriction, and flight trackers showed empty airspace over Ukraine.

plain flightradar ukraine screenshot

Map of airspace over Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

FlightRadar24


Several global airlines, including Lufthansa, Dutch carrier KLM, and Air France, preemptively canceled flights to the country after the European Union Aviation Safety Agency called Ukraine “an active conflict zone.”

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