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Update on Sunday 27 February at 15.45h
Spain is to also close its airspace to Russian airlines. ‘Following the cooperation guidelines set by the European Union, this measure will have an effect on flights operated by Russian airlines that use Spanish airspace,’ the Ministry of Transport announced on Sunday.
Original report below:
The International Airlines Group (IAG), owner of British Airways and Spanish carriers Iberia and Vueling, has stopped all flights to Russia and is re-routing aircraft to avoid flying over Russian airspace, the group’s CEO said on Friday.
The news comes a day after the UK government banned Russian flagship carrier Aeroflot from flying over the UK as part of a series of sanctions against Russia following its invasion of neighbour Ukraine.
In retaliation, Moscow banned all UK-linked planes, including transiting flights, from its airspace. Russia’s Federal Agency for Air Transport said in a statement Friday that it was banning UK registered flights, as well as aircraft owned, leased or operated by a person associated with the United Kingdom, from transiting the country’s airspace.
The Russian agency said the measure was taken in response to the decision by the UK government to ban Aeroflot and other Russian airlines from British airspace. It was part of a package of sanctions announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson after Russia invaded Ukraine.
‘No aircraft on a scheduled service which is owned, chartered or operated by a person connected with Russia, or which is registered in Russia shall fly in United Kingdom airspace,’ the UK Department for Transport had said. The restrictions went into effect at midnight on Thursday, and are due to expire on 23 May. English Premier League soccer club Manchester United also said on Friday that it was dropping Aeroflot as a sponsor.
IAG’s Chief executive Luis Gallego told reporters in a call on Friday that the group was re-routing flights so as not to fly over Russia, and had cancelled a Moscow bound flight.
‘We took the decision to cancel the flight … to Moscow today,’ Gallego told a conference call for the group’s annual results on Friday.
The airline conglomerate was also re-routing scheduled flights to Singapore and Dubai so that they do ‘not fly over Russia’, he added.
Separately, IAG announced on Friday that net losses more than halved last year with recovery underway as Covid travel curbs were lifted. Its loss after tax narrowed sharply to €2.9 billion in 2021, compared with a record €6.9 billion loss in 2020, when the pandemic paralysed air travel and grounded flights worldwide.