Airlines have been rerouting flights around Russian airspace or opting to cancel them outright due to reciprocal bans issued by Russian authorities on their aircraft. Most of these routes are between Europe and Asia; some flights added time and distance, while others were canceled altogether.
The future is now — February 2022
Just last month, European carriers used the Russian airspace to be the most efficient path between Europe and Asia.
Flights that avoid Russia
These airlines are typically longer-distance trips over Asia, and the new routes take one to three hours longer than they did before. These flights now fly south instead of east and then south past Russia. This adds an hour or two of flying time on a journey between Europe and Japan, China, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
A Polar bear cub ventures to the Arctic
Previously, Finnair’s flight between Helsinki and Tokyo and Japan Airlines’ flight between Tokyo and London both traveled through Russian airspace for the majority of their respective routes. However, both airlines have adjusted their routes to avoid Russian airspace by heading northward.
Japan Airlines flight JL43
Recently, JL43 changed its route from flying over Russia to following a longer but far more direct path over North America and the North Atlantic. The change has helped to shorten the flight time by one hour, now averaging 12 hours 12 minutes.
Prior to March 9th, Finnair flights from Helsinki to Tokyo took advantage of geography to give travelers a relatively quick 8 hour 57 minute flight. The flight between Europe and Japan was shortened on March 9th because of tighter restrictions on Russian airspace in the Pacific. On this new route, passengers will have an additional 4 hours of flying time.
Have you ever flown through Russia?
Seen as a safety buffer after the Soviet Union’s collapse, the agreement between Russia and China allows Chinese airlines to use Russian airspace on their flights between Europe and China.