Airlines Fear “Aerial Bombing And Missle Attacks” In Ukraine Airspace
Many airlines have made the decision to avoid Ukrainian airspace amid fears of a Russian invasion, with the country’s largest airline losing insurance after flying within the airspace.
Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) announced Monday that insurers canceled its coverage for aircraft responsible for flying in Ukrainian airspace. The announcement coincides with other airlines, such as Dutch airline KLM, suspending flights to Ukraine and avoiding its airspace.
“UIA is making efforts and is constantly negotiating with insurance companies, the ministry of the infrastructure of Ukraine, the state aviation administration and hopes for mutual understanding,” UIA said of the insurance cancellations.
In an effort to keep flights flowing through Ukraine, the country’s Prime Minister Denys Shmygal announced Sunday that the government had dedicated over $590 million U.S. dollars to ensure planes can safely fly through Ukrainian airspace. It’s unclear whether his announcement will affect airlines’ and insurers’ decisions when it comes to flying through Ukrainian air space amid fears of a Russian invasion.
German airline, Lufthansa is considering following KLM’s decision. As of Monday, British Airways (BA) flights began avoiding Ukrainian airspace.
The insurance cancellation and re-routing of flights come as the U.S. government warns that Russia has the potential to invade Ukraine at any time. National security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Americans living in Ukraine on Friday that they should get out “as soon as possible.”
Sullivan painted a bleak picture of the chaos that would ensue should Russia choose to invade – and indicated that a potential invasion would likely start “with aerial bombing and missile attacks.”
“No one would be able to count on air or rail or road departures once military action got underway,” Sullivan added. “Now again, I’m not standing here and saying what is going to happen or not happen. I’m only standing here to say that the risk is now high enough and the threat is immediate enough.”
Understandably airlines are cautious when in 2014 Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down while flying over Ukraine. Western intelligence concluded that pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine were responsible, though Russia has denied involvement.