Expensive flights, delays and new advice for eastern Europe: How Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will affect travel

Ali Coulton

Russia officially invaded Ukraine on Thursday, launching an attack on three sides by land, sea and air.

While this news will have a devastating impact on the 44 million people living in Ukraine as well as international relations worldwide, it is also expected to affect global travel in a number of ways.

Airspace over Ukraine is now closed, according to Reuters, and most commercial airlines already cancelled flights to the country last week.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has also issued a warning against flying in the airspace over Russia and Belarus within 200 nautical miles of Ukraine.

Airline change routes 

Reports indicate flights that would usually travel over the country will now be slightly delayed, as airlines adapt their routes to give the area a wide birth to avoid a repeat of the MH17 disaster.

On 17 July 2014 a Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot out of the sky as it flew over Ukraine killing all 298 people on board including 40 Australians.

Investigations revealed the flight was hit by a Russian Buk missile, but President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied responsibility.

A spokesperson for Qantas told the Australian its flights to London via Darwin have been affected, with the airline sending its flights well north of the country, giving its border with Russia a 450 nautical mile berth.

Airline ticket prices expected to rise

The invasion is also expected to have a huge impact on the cost of aviation fuel, with oil prices already spiking in reaction.

Russia is the second biggest exporter of crude oil and the largest exporter of natural gas, which is used to power aeroplanes.

According to the BBC, there are fears Russia could reduce supplies of gas in retaliation to the widespread global condemnation of its actions against Ukraine, which would have a significant effect on global supply and drive up costs.

With fuel prices already high as travel begins to restart, this added increase is expected to make plane tickets more expensive.

New travel advice for eastern Europe

The Australian government has issued a ‘do not travel’ warning for Ukraine, advising Australians shelter in place if they are unable to leave the country.

“In the event of a military incursion, it is likely that commercial routes out of Ukraine will be severely disrupted and roads across Ukraine could be closed,” the government said on its Smartraveller website.

The government has also issued a ‘do not travel’ warning for Belarus and is urging Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Russia or Ukraine’s neighbouring countries, including Slovakia, Poland, Moldova, Hungary and Romania.

Featured image: iStock/MarkRubens