Ukraine Closes Airspace Before Russian Forces Launch Invasion Of Ukraine

Ukraine Closes Airspace Before Russian Forces Launch Invasion Of Ukraine

KYIV, UKRAINE – Ukraine has closed Ukrainian airspace to all civilian flights on Thursday, a few hours prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at around 5:00 AM (Local Time), Reuters reports. Europe’s aviation regulator EASA has published a Conflict Zone Information Bulletin (CZIB) for Ukraine, which is and active conflict area now, as a warning against the hazards to flying in bordering areas of Russia and Belarus.

Since the war in former Yugoslavia (1991-2001), Europe was a reasonably peaceful continent, till Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in Eastern Ukriaine on Thursday February 24, 2022. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from the borders of eastern Ukriane, Belarus and Crimea marks the start of a new war in Europe.

Based on the urgent message of the Main Center for the Use of Airspace of Civil Aviation of the Russian Federation, due to the high risk of aviation safety for civil aviation from 00:45 AM (UTC) / 2:45 AM (Kyiv Time) of the Joint Civil-Military Air Traffic Management System of Ukraine on the use of Ukraine’s airspace , in accordance with the requirements of the Air Code of Ukraine and the Regulations on the use of Ukrainian airspace ,has taken urgent measures to close Ukraine’s airspace to civilian airspace users,” Ukraine State Air Traffic Services Enterprise (UkSATSE) said on its website.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said airspace in Russia and Belarus within 100 NM (nautical miles) of their borders with Ukraine could also pose safety risks.

“In particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft,” EASA said in a conflict zone information bulletin.

EASA’s Conflict Zone Information Bulletin (CZIB) on Twitter

“The presence and possible use of a wide range of ground and airborne warfare systems poses a high risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels.”

The aviation industry has taken notice of the risks conflicts pose to civil aviation since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members were killed.

According to EASA, Russia’s Ministry of Defence had sent Ukraine an urgent message warning of a high risk to flight safety, due to the use of weapons and military equipment from 00:45 AM (GMT), and asked Ukraine’s air traffic control to stop all flights.

Flightradar24’s screen recording from 11:00 AM (Kyiv Time) shows aircraft diverting around Ukraine on February 24, 2022 in this still image taken from Flightradar24 video. Image:

Early morning airline traffic diverted to avoid Ukrainian airspace via crowded corridors to the north and west. Several flights diverted directly out of Ukrainian airspace around the time of its closure. An El Al flight that departed Tel Aviv for Toronto made a sudden U-turn out of Ukrainian airspace, Flightradar24 showed. Also LOT Polish Airlines flight from Warsaw to Kyiv turned back to Warsaw around the same time.

Also Russia had suspended domestic flights to and from several airports near the border with Ukraine until March 2, 2022, the country said on Thursday. Airports included are Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar and Stavropol, but Russia has also closed some airspace in the Rostov sector “in order to provide safety” for civil aviation flights, a notice to airmen showed.

Before Ukraine closed its airspace for all commercial flights, countries like the UK, Canada, France, Italy and the US had advised their airlines to avoid certain airspace above eastern Ukraine and Crimea, although no total ban had been issued for the country.

Lufthansa already halted flights to Ukraine from Monday, joining KLM which was the first airline to suspend flights to the country, two weeks ago on February 12.


Head photo: Kiev Boryspil Airport in September 2014 by calflier001, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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