The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. Since then, world leaders have condemned the war, humanitarian organizations have raised concerns, and news organizations have reported on developing stories. But despite these actions, the war has continued to wreak havoc on innocent residents in the region.
These circumstances not only continue to create difficulties for those in Ukraine and Russia but also hold implications for the rest of the world. This also includes people’s plans to travel to Europe from other regions.
If you had been planning to travel through Europe in 2022, the current situation must have you wondering about your safety, security, convenience, and comfort during the trip. To help you through your journey, here is a lowdown on traveling through Europe amid the Ukraine-Russia war.
Before the Ukraine-Russia war, Russia only allowed one airline per country to fly across its airspace. The only country that was an exception was the UK, which could have two of its airlines fly through the Russian skies. On the other hand, Ukraine didn’t have any such restrictions.
But this has changed quite rapidly over the course of the Ukraine-Russia war. After having the airspace of various countries closed for Russian aircraft, Russia has now closed its airspace to multiple countries around the world in retaliation.
Despite Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky repeatedly calling to establish a no-fly zone, the Ukrainian skies have not seen that appeal implemented so far. But Ukraine itself has closed entry to foreign aircrafts as well. As a result, airlines and flight operators are not flying over Russia and Ukraine. For some, the decision comes on their own accord. For others, it follows decisions taken by both countries to close their airspace.
This means that any flights that used to take the Ukraine or Russia route for Europe are now managed through different locations. This has affected the overall traveling time for many flights. The fact that many neighboring countries have been sliding in and out of airspace closure doesn’t make air travel any easier.
If you are traveling to Europe from a route that may have originally included Ukraine, Russia, or a neighboring country with closed airspace, you should check with your airline about alternative routes and schedules alike. This could help you manage the elevated timeframe of completing your trip without any issues.
Ukraine shares its borders with a total of seven countries across the region. Apart from Russia, these territories include Belarus, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. On the other hand, Russia has no less than 14 countries as its neighbors. These include Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Norway, Poland, and Ukraine.
But despite their close proximity to an active war zone, these neighboring countries remain safe to travel and accept flights into their airspace. This means that even if you may have to put up with additional travel time and costs, you can still book your flights to these territories.
However, it is important to note that some countries may close their airspace abruptly due to the ongoing conflict. For instance, Moldova closed its airspace at the beginning of March, only to open it later in the month. Keeping this unpredictability of neighboring countries’ airspace decisions in mind, you should check for updated information while making your travel plans.
Until the situation between Ukraine and Russia improves, there is little to no chance that the airspace restrictions in these countries would be lifted in the near future. This could also impact airspace availability across neighboring countries from time to time. Being mindful of this possibility, you should be ready to face lengthy trips, expensive flights, and scarce availability of flights.
But once you are traveling through Europe, you can expect to find the same level of transportation and accommodation solutions that you would on a usual year - with some pandemic restrictions to boot. As long as you check for the latest information with your airline, you can manage a safe and comfortable trip in and out of Europe with ease.