The United States government is expected to announce a ban on Russian flights from American airspace as soon as Wednesday, government and industry officials told Reuters.
This came after the late Tuesday announcement that United Airlines said it has temporarily suspended flying over Russian airspace, joining other major U.S. carriers who have taken the step after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The White House, which declined to comment on Tuesday, held extensive talks with U.S. airlines in recent days on the issue.
United had been continuing to fly over Russian airspace to operate some flights to and from India in recent days.
Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Parcel Service all confirmed this week they had halted flights over Russia as the White House considers following Canada and the European Union in banning overflights of U.S. airspace by Russian carriers.
The logo of Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot is seen on an Airbus. Airlines like Aeroflot face a ban from American airspace
President Joe Biden has been increasing sanctions on Russia as the invasion continues
The European Union had been speaking to their American counterparts about extending a ban on Russian flights, it said on Tuesday, as it gave more details of the EU’s closure of airspace to Russian aircraft imposed after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Airlines already face potentially lengthy blockages of key east-west flight corridors after the EU and Moscow issued tit-for-tat airspace bans. Washington has not ruled out similar action.
A senior EU official, when asked if they were talking to the United States about it following the European ban, told reporters: ‘Yes, there are discussions with the U.S. on what measures they will adopt.’
The EU official said Russian oligarchs, even those with dual nationalities, would not be able to get around the EU airspace ban.
‘It doesn’t matter whether they are EU residents, if they are Russian nationals, they will be covered,’ the official said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been pressuring allied nations for assistance
‘Russian nationals or a Russian company cannot charter, own or control a plane that will be flying into the EU, out of the EU or overflying the EU. So that’s the rule.’
Global supply chains, already hit hard by the pandemic, will face increasing disruption and cost pressure from the closure of the skies which will affect over a fifth of air freight.
Hardest hit are likely to be Russian carriers, which make up approximately 70% of the flights between Russia and the EU.
Transport between Europe and North Asian destinations like Japan, South Korea and China is in the front line of disruption after reciprocal bans barred European carriers from flying over Siberia and prevented Russian airlines from flying to Europe.
Airlines responsible for moving around 20% of the world’s air cargo are affected by those bans, Frederic Horst, managing director of Cargo Facts Consulting, told Reuters on Tuesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has continued undeterred with his nation’s invasion of its neighbors
Germany’s Lufthansa, Air France KLM, Finnair and Virgin Atlantic have already cancelled North Asian cargo flights over closed access to airspace.
Lufthansa Cargo will cut also some flights in the coming weeks after Russia’s airspace was closed off, a spokesperson for the German company said on Tuesday.
Scandinavian airline SAS said it would re-route its once-weekly Copenhagen-Shanghai service to avoid Russian airspace, and had also paused its Copenhagen-Tokyo service.
Major Asian carriers like Korean Air Lines and Japan’s ANA Holdings are still using Russian airspace, however, as are Middle Eastern airlines.
Alaska Airlines said it would temporarily suspend its partnership with Russia’s S7 Airlines due to its concerns over the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
United Airlines is among the many that have halted all flights into Russian airspace
Shipping container shortages and port bottlenecks mean more products are being flown by air. Demand for air cargo last year was 6.9% above 2019 levels, according to IATA.
Taiwan’s EVA Airways said on Tuesday its cargo flights to and from Europe were operating normally and it would consider adding more services to meet market demand.
China Airlines, also based in Taiwan, said it would adjust its cargo capacity depending on the situation.
Asia-North America cargo routes are expected to be less affected than European routes, analysts say, because many carriers already use Anchorage, Alaska, as a cargo hub and stopover point.
UPS and FedEx Corp had earlier stopped deliveries to Russia. Deutsche Post said its DHL unit was halting inbound shipments to Russia.
Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co said on Tuesday they were keeping an eye on any disruption to supply chains as a result of what Russia calls its “special operation” in Ukraine.