Ukraine advises airlines to avoid overflights of Black Sea

14 February 2022, 11:10 AM

Ukrainian civil aviation regulator Ukraerorukh is advising commercial airlines to avoid flying over the Black Sea between Feb. 14 and Feb. 19, the agency’s acting Director Andriy Yarmak said in a Facebook post on Feb. 13.

Yarmak said that Ukraine’s airspace remains open, besides the areas that have remained closed since 2014, amid a looming threat of further Russian invasion.

“There have been no decisions made to close Ukrainian airspace,” he said.

Ukraerorukh has however published updated air travel navigational guidance, designating flying over the Black Sea as potentially dangerous at least until Feb. 19.

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“So, from tomorrow, airlines are advised to avoid flights over this zone (the Black Sea) for a certain period of time, and to plan optimal routes in consideration of the current situation,” said Yarmak.

According to the acting director, this guidance does not block flights over the Black Sea entirely.

“Ukrainian airspace remains open and available for flight plans,” he said.

“Flight security is being properly maintained in accordance with international norms and standards.”

Russia’s attempts to exert airspace control around Simferopol, the capital of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula, are in violation of international treaties, including the Chicago Convention of International Civil Aviation of 1944, Yarmak added. He said that according to the resolution of the Council of International Civil Aviation Organization from Feb. 17, 1997, Ukraine remains the only internationally recognized state responsible for Simferopol’s air traffic control zone.

“Ukraine and the rest of the world make no use of air traffic navigation provided by Russia (around the Crimean city of Simferopol),” Yarmak said.

On Feb. 9, Russia issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), declaring parts of airspace above the Black Sea as dangerous until Feb. 19, due to the naval exercises Moscow is conducting there.

Earlier, Ukraine’s Transport Ministry said it’s working to deal with insurance risks that have arisen due to a potential Russian invasion.

UK insurance broker Lloyd’s has already stated their unwillingness to provide coverage for military risks in Ukrainian airspace.

According to Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Honcharenko, flights over Ukraine are likely to be suspended from 1600 on Feb. 14. He said it would happen due to some insurers rescinding their coverage of commercial flights over Ukraine.

On Feb. 13, a plane belonging to Ukrainian airline SkyUp, flying from Portugal to Kyiv, diverted and landed in Moldova: The Irish company that leases aircraft to SkyUp had barred the plane from entering Ukraine’s airspace.

Dutch national carrier KLM suspended flights to Ukraine on Feb. 12.

The looming threat of Russian invasion has prompted 39 countries to urge their citizens to leave Ukraine and avoid traveling to the country. Some countries have partially evacuated their embassy employees or relocated them to western Ukraine.

Western media and intelligence agencies report that another Russian invasion of Ukraine is likely, as Moscow has amassed over 130,000 troops around Ukraine’s borders since October 2021.

The Kremlin denies gearing up for invasion, and has instead accused Ukraine of planning false flag operations, as well as of drawing up plans to use force to restore Kyiv’s control over territories lost since 2014.

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