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Invasion in Ukraine: Flights from India hit, curbs over Russia

Air India continues to overfly Russia for its flights between the US and India. The consequence of this is a difference of 1-2 hours between US-India flights operated by American carriers and Air India, with the latter's flight duration being lesser.

Written by Pranav Mukul | New Delhi |
Updated: March 3, 2022 6:02:14 am
Air India, Indian flights, India flights to Ukraine, Russian invasion in Ukraine, Russia Ukraine, Russia Ukraine Crisis, Russia-Ukraine tension, Ukraine, Ukraine Crisis, India-Ukraine-Russia, NATO, United States, Vladimir Putin, Volodomyr Zelenskyy, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsAccording to information sourced from flight tracking portal Flightradar24, Air India's flight from Newark to Delhi on March 1 operated with a duration of 13 hours 19 minutes, while United's flight on the same sector a day earlier on February 28 took 14 hours 20 minutes to reach Delhi. PTI/File

Russia’s military action in Ukraine has led to restrictions on use of airspace by the West on Russia and vice-versa, and this is expected to impact travellers from India to the US. American carrier United Airlines, which was using Russian airspace to fly to India and back, has temporarily suspended some of its flights on the India-US route.

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Air India continues to overfly Russia for its flights between the US and India. The consequence of this is a difference of 1-2 hours between US-India flights operated by American carriers and Air India, with the latter’s flight duration being lesser.

According to information sourced from flight tracking portal Flightradar24, Air India’s flight from Newark to Delhi on March 1 operated with a duration of 13 hours 19 minutes, while United’s flight on the same sector a day earlier on February 28 took 14 hours 20 minutes to reach Delhi. Other sectors such as Chicago-Delhi, San-Francisco-Delhi are also taking longer for United.

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The airline has cancelled its flights from San Francisco to Delhi at least until March 6.

In response to a query by The Indian Express, a spokesperson for United Airlines said: “United has temporarily suspended flying over Russian airspace to operate our flights to and from Mumbai and Delhi, India”.

A Delhi-based airline executive pointed to the 2019 closure of Pakistan airspace, following the Balakot strikes by India that resulted in longer flight times and subsequently higher air fares.

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“The extended flight times will naturally cause higher fuel burn. For as long as it is sustainable, carriers will continue to operate but flights might get suspended once the threshold of cost versus revenue opportunity gets breached,” the executive said.

In addition to US flights, some European sectors have also been affected by blockading of Russian airspace. Finnair, which operates from Helsinki to Delhi, saw its flight times increase by almost three hours compared to what it was prior to the Ukraine crisis.

Over the past few years, the use of airspace has emerged as a crucial tool by countries to affirm their stances in geopolitical conflicts. In the Ukraine-Russia conflict, jurisdictions opposing Russia’s move to invade Ukraine have started blocking their airspace to aircraft registered or operated by Russians.

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Other than Ukraine, which has its airspace closed for Russia since 2015, at least 29 European and North American countries have disallowed use of their airspace to Russian aircraft. Russia too has reciprocated with prohibitions.

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First published on: 03-03-2022 at 02:42:53 am
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