After Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized his military troops to strike Ukraine, European low-cost carrier Wizz Air revealed on Thursday that it still had four planes on the ground in Ukraine.
The Hungary-based carrier said it was attempting to rescue all of its Ukrainian employees and their immediate families, in addition to four-stranded planes. The airline wouldn’t specify how many passengers it was trying to remove.
After Russian forces started an organized missile attack on major Ukrainian infrastructure targets early Thursday, Ukrainian air safety regulators blocked the country’s airspace to all civilian aviation traffic.
Multiple airports across Ukraine have been reported as having been attacked, including unsubstantiated reports of a missile strike on Kyiv Boryspil airport.
According to unconfirmed sources, the world’s largest freight plane, the one-of-a-kind Antonov AN-225, was destroyed in an attack on Hostomel airport.
Three Wizz Airplanes were stranded in Kyiv, while the fourth was stuck in Lviv, according to the airline. The airline’s fleet consists entirely of Airbus A320 series aircraft.
“We will be evacuating, at the earliest opportunity, all of our Ukrainian-based crew, their immediate families, and any families of Wizz Air Ukrainian nationals who wish to leave the country,” a Wizz Air spokesperson told Bloomberg.
On Thursday, the European Aviation Safety Agency urged airlines to avoid Ukrainian airspace, labeling the region an active war zone. Should airlines fly near the Ukrainian border, the UK’s Department for Transport has issued a warning about the potential of surface-to-air missiles.
Most European airlines had already halted flights to and from Ukraine, as diplomatic efforts to avoid a full-fledged war became increasingly implausible. Flights to Ukraine were still being operated by Wizz Air and Ryanair as of Wednesday night.