What to expect for air travel after Canada, EU, U.S. and more say no to Russian planes

Thirty-three countries, including the European Union, Canada and the United States, closed their airspace to commercial and civil Russian aircraft following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia responded by closing its airspace to airlines from 36 countries, including the 27 EU member states. Intercontinental routes between Europe and Northeast Asia will be the most affected by the closures, Advito air expert David Frangeul says, but the bans won’t do much to slow travel’s recovery.

In a short Q&A, Frangeul outlines what’s ahead for air travel following these actions, including implications for:

  • Flight routes and travel times
  • Fuel costs
  • Travel’s overall recovery

Which routes are most affected?

In the Intercontinental sector, routes between Europe and Northeast Asia — mainly Japan, Korea, and China — will be the most affected by the closure of Russia’s airspace for European carriers.

In addition, travel between Russia and Europe for the majority of carriers operating these routes will be affected by the ban on Russian carriers in Europe and the similar ban on 27 European carriers from flying to Russia.

Will the Russia-Ukraine war further slow business travel’s recovery?

From a mid-term to long-term perspective, it’s still too early to understand the full impact of this war.

Short term, we’re not anticipating that this will slow down travel’s recovery. Europe to Asia was one of the intercontinental travel sectors that experienced significant passenger traffic contraction in 2021 due to COVID-19-related border restrictions in several Asian countries; and that’s still affecting recovery.

In addition, Asian carriers are not impacted by the latest measures closing off access to Russia’s airspace and will still be able to operate with their standard intercontinental routing.

Will flights be longer?  

Long diversions will be required for airlines operating between Europe and Northeast Asia. The carriers will need to find alternative routes to avoid Russian airspace. Flight times could potentially increase by around 20% (from Europe to Tokyo, for example) by taking a route south of the restricted airspace. Stops may be added on routes that previously were nonstop.

Will costs go up because of the need for more fuel on the reroutes?

Fuel costs will increase due to longer routing. That will be a challenge for airlines, especially in a context of the increase in jet fuel prices over the past year (+60% in the last 12 months). Airlines might be tempted to pass on this additional cost to clients by raising fuel surcharges in a very near future.

Meet Advito’s David Frangeul

David Frangeul, Advito Global Air Practice Director

David Frangeul, Global Air Practice Director for Advito, leads a team of airline and business travel experts responsible for airline pricing and distribution concerns. Frangeul is regularly invited to share his expertise at conferences and webinars on a diverse range of topics, including airline industry development, new model of airline distribution and multimodal program management. Previously, David worked for Air France KLM for almost 15 years mainly in pricing, commercial and global corporate sales positions. He has a Master of Business Administration from NEOMA business school in France. He’s based in Munich, Germany.

For information, email [email protected].

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