Air France, Lufthansa and SAS Limit Flights to Ukraine

Air France, Lufthansa and SAS Limit Flights to Ukraine

As tensions mount in Ukraine, more airlines are limiting or suspending flights into the country despite the government’s effort to keep the airspace open.

Air France said on Monday that it would cancel its flights to and from Kyiv scheduled for Tuesday because of security concerns sparked by Russia’s troop buildup on Ukraine’s borders.

The airline, which currently runs round trip flights between Paris and Kyiv on Tuesdays and Sundays, said the cancellations were a “precautionary measure” and that the company would be “regularly re-evaluating the situation.”

Also starting on Monday, the German carrier Lufthansa suspended flights to Kyiv and the Ukrainian city of Odessa until the end of the month. The suspension also applies to flights by Austrian Airlines and Swiss International Air Lines, both part of the Lufthansa Group.

A spokeswoman for Lufthansa said that flights to Lviv, in western Ukraine, would continue to operate regularly.

“The safety of our passengers and crew members is our top priority at all times,” Lufthansa said in a statement.

Scandinavian Airlines, known as SAS, canceled its weekly flight from Oslo to Kyiv scheduled for Tuesday. John Eckhoff, a spokesman for the airline, said it would reassess the situation before deciding whether to resume the flight next week.

Airlines started limiting flights into Ukraine on Feb. 12, when the Dutch carrier KLM suspended them indefinitely, citing safety concerns. That same day, the Ukrainian low-cost airline SkyUp was forced to land a flight in Moldova because insurance companies said that they would stop insuring aircrafts for flights over Ukrainian airspace, and the company temporarily suspended ticket sales.

With airlines fearful of what happened in 2014 — when a missile fired from territory controlled by Russia-backed separatists brought down a Malaysia Airlines plane, killing all 298 people aboard — the Ukrainian authorities emphasized that the country’s airspace remained open, and scrambled to reassure the industry. The Ukrainian prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, announced on Feb. 13 the creation of a $590 million fund to cover insurance so that flights could continue through Ukrainian airspace.

Ukraine International Airlines said on Monday that although insurance companies could stop insuring aircraft for flights over Ukrainian airspace, it would continue to operate flights normally thanks to cooperation with the government.

Other carriers, such as Wizz Air and Ryanair, continue to operate flights to the country.

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