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Japan’s airlines cancel all flights to and from Europe as Russian airspace is shut

Japan’s airlines cancel all flights to and from Europe as Russian airspace is shut.

Japan Airlines Co Ltd (JAL) and ANA Holdings Inc said they would cancel all flights to and from Europe on Thursday due to safety concerns that have arisen in the wake of Russia's military operation in Ukraine.

The two Japanese commercial airlines operate about 60 flights per week through Russian airspace between Tokyo and London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Helsinki, according to a spokesperson for flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

The airlines, which normally use Russian airspace for their Europe flights, join a growing number of carriers that have cancelled or rerouted flights between Europe and north Asia due to the Ukraine crisis.

"We are continuously monitoring the situation, but given the present situation in Ukraine and the different risks, we have decided to cancel flights," Reuters cited a JAL spokesperson as saying.

ANA Cargo's website said the suspension of flights was due to the "high possibility of its operations not being able to overfly Russia due to the current Ukraine situation."

Finnair, which had initially cancelled its Tokyo flights after losing access to Russian airspace, said on Wednesday it would resume four weekly Helsinki-Tokyo flights with a new longer route and a flight time of 13 hours instead of 9.5 hours previously.

Russia has closed its airspace to airlines of 27 members of the European Union and 9 other countries, in retaliation against Ukraine-related sanctions targeting its aviation sector.

While some of the banned countries had already been identified, others were named by the aviation authority Rosaviatsia for the first time on Monday after the fresh sanctions imposed over Russia's military operation in Ukraine.

The flight bans will adversely impact airlines that fly over Russia on their way from Europe to Asia as they will have to take longer routes to avoid Russian airspace. This will increase the cost of operations for airlines due to the increased fuel burn. It will also take longer for passengers to get to their destinations. 

However, Rosaviatsia said that flights from those countries could in exceptional circumstances be authorised if they secure special clearance from Russia's aviation authority or foreign ministry.

The countries on Russia’s banned flights  list are: Albania, Anguilla, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, British Virgin Islands, Germany, Gibraltar, Hungary, Greece, Denmark, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Jersey, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Also read:  Russian energy supplies to Europe rise despite rising tensions