London Airports: which flight routes from Heathrow and Gatwick could be affected by Russia-Ukraine conflict?

The EU has now banned Russia from entering its airspace, as more sanctions are being put in place as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rolls on.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is already causing disruption to the stock market, energy prices and global travel, as several countries have begun closing their airspace.

Russia president Vladimir Putin retaliated against the UK’s sanctions imposed on Russian airlines Aeroflot by putting a ban on any UK flights flying within Russian airspace and landing in Russian airports.

It comes just after Ukraine and Moldova closed their airspace due to safety concerns for passenger jets in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As of Monday, February 28, peace are to be had between Russian and Ukraine delegations, and will take place on the border of Ukraine and Belarus.

So will flight routes from London be affected? This is what you need to know.

Will flights from London Airport be affected by the Russia-Ukraine conflict?

A British Airways flight scheduled to leave Heathrow Airport at 8:20 on 25 February and arriving in Moscow at 15:20 was cancelled.

The airline operates three flights per week to Moscow - all of which are now cancelled.

One of Britain’s biggest airlines, British Airways, who fly directly to Moscow from London said it is now avoiding overflights and cancelled their sole flight to Russia, as mentioned above, but has said that the overall impact is “not huge.”

Following the announcement in Russia, Virgin Atlantic also said flight paths had been adjusted for some of its services between the UK, Pakistan and India. Flight times on these routes have been extended, with some flights taking an extra 15 minutes, and some taking an hour.

Jet2 has said that the closures have not impacted their flight routes, and all flights so far. A spokesperson for the company said: “We are aware that Russian airspace has been closed to British airlines, and that Ukrainian airspace has also been closed. These developments have no impact on any of our flights whatsoever, and we are continuing to operate all of our routes as normal.”

Easyjet’s flights to Budapest in Hungary and Krakow in Poland from London Gatwick are also operating as normal. A spokesperson from EasyJet, said: The safety and well being of our customers is our highest priority, we continue to follow the advice of the relevant aviation authorities and so our flights to Poland and Hungary continue to operate as scheduled. We continue to monitor the situation closely and follow the guidance of the relevant aviation authorities.”

Why has Russia banned UK flights?

On 24 February when Russia’s invasion into Ukraine began, the UK imposed a number of sanctions on Russia, including a ban on Russian national airline Aeroflot from landing in the UK.

An Aeroflot’s aircraft takes off at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport, the aircraft has been dropped as a sponsor of Manchester United and is banned from UK airspace.

In retaliation for the sanctions imposed, The Federal Agency for Air Transport (Rosaviatsiya) said all flights by UK carriers to Russia, as well as transit flights, are banned from the country from Friday 25 February.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told ITV: "I think that’s their retaliation for us yesterday banning Aeroflot from using and landing in the United Kingdom. That’s their tit for tat response."

What should I do if I had booked flights to Russia?

When a flight is cancelled for any reason, you are, by law, entitled to a full ticket refund for the price of the flight.

Flight-delayed says if an alternate flight wasn’t taken, which in this case is not likely, a full monetary refund is allowed.

Which countries have closed their airspace to UK flights?

Ukraine closed its airspace to all commercial flights shortly after the invasion began, which was around 2am GMT on the morning of Thursday, February 24.

When an airspace closes, it usually means that any aircraft entering the airspace may be deemed a threat, any flights out of the airspace are grounded and any flights due to be incoming are rerouted.

Russia’s airspace is still open to many countries, but not to UK flights.

Which countries have closed their airspace?

Moldova, which borders Ukraine, also closed its airspace and Belarus shut parts of its airspace down too.

Russia’s airspace is still open to many countries, but not to UK flights.

The EU has followed the UK’s stance, and have banned Russia from operating within their airspace.

Outside of the EU, Canada plan to investigate a flight from Miami to Moscow, that is reported to have entered Canadian airspace on February 27. The Aeroflot flight is reported to have violated a ban on all Russian flights.

Could my holiday or flight be cancelled this year?

It is unclear if flights and holidays will be affected due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Currently,  flights to countries that border Ukraine are not impacted. Flights from London Stansted via Ryanair are still operating to Wroclaw, Katowice, Gdansk (Poland), Tallinn (Estonia), Bratislava and Kosice (Slovakia).

In the short-term, Ryanair, which flies from London Heathrow to countries that border Ukraine such as Poland released a statement, with the budget airline saying: “Due to the closure of Ukrainian airspace overnight, and the apparent invasion by Russian forces, all Ryanair flights to/from Ukraine have been suspended for at least the next 14 days.

“Ryanair remains committed to our services to/from Ukraine and we look forward to restoring flight services there as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Airports also strongly recommend checking with the airline you’re flying with on the status of your flight. Apps and websites such as FlightAware, also provide the latest information on the status of flights.