At a moment when COVID-19 cases are falling, and the world is loosening restrictions and entry requirements to encourage an increase in international travel, the aviation industry is presented with yet a new challenge.

The airline sanctions imposed on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine are likely to wreak havoc that results in delays and cancellations on long-haul flights, route changes, possible refueling stops and airfare increases to cover those extra costs.


So far, 36 countries around the world have banned Russian airlines and cargo planes from their respective airspace. The United States still has not done so, although Reuters News Service has reported that the Biden Administration is considering it.

“There are a lot of flights that U.S. airlines fly over Russia to go to Asia and other parts of the world and we factor in a range of factors,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, according to Reuters.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said he supports a U.S. ban on airspace.

“Other countries have done it in Europe and turning the lights out at the airport on those guys isn’t a bad idea,” he said.

Russian national carrier Aeroflot has already canceled flights to the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic through Wednesday, March 2, since it can no longer fly over Canadian airspace.

All of this will have a possible ripple effect depending on the length of the war and whether the sanctions will carry over even if the conflict ends. Delta Air Lines announced last week it will suspend its codeshare agreement with Aeroflot. United Airlines is watching with a wary eye since it flies over Russian airspace on its route from Delhi, India to the United States. American Airlines said it was not using any Russian airspace on overseas flights.

With route changes and detours likely, focus has suddenly shifted to Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska. It’s possible that airlines that formerly used Russian airspace could bypass that by laying over, and/or refueling, in Anchorage.

Airport officials told Alaska News Service they have been contacted by airlines about whether Ted Stevens can handle the additional increase in flights and the need for fuel.

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