British Airways has canceled its daily flight from London Heathrow to Moscow and will avoid flying across Russian airspace for any additional flights.
British Airways’ decision to avoid flying to Russia comes a day after the UK government placed restrictions on Russian flag carrier Aeroflot, prohibiting any scheduled Russian flight from traveling through British airspace.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned tit-for-tat penalties against any country that puts sanctions on Russia. Russian officials announced a like-for-like ban on British airlines on Friday morning.
“A restriction was introduced on the use of the airspace of the Russian Federation for flights of aircraft owned, leased or operated by a person associated with the UK or registered in the UK, to points in the territory of the Russian Federation, including transit flights through the airspace of the Russian Federation,” the Federal Air Transport Agency announced.
As the airline group presented its annual financial results, Luis Gallego, CEO of British Airways parent company IAG, confirmed the decision to avoid Russia.
“Following the UK government decision to ban Aeroflot from landing in the UK, we have taken the decision not to use Russian airspace for overflights. We are avoiding Russian airspace for the time being,” Gallego told reporters.
British Airways used to frequently fly across Russia on their way to the Far East, but because of ongoing pandemic restrictions, most of these routes are still halted or uncommon.
Gallego expressed confidence in British Airways’ ability to divert aircraft if needed.
The flight BA880 from London Heathrow to Moscow was scheduled to depart at 8:20 a.m. on Friday, but it was canceled at the last minute.
Japan Airlines announced on Thursday that it would cancel its service from Tokyo to Moscow because it could not assure the flight’s safety.