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Europe closes airspace for Russian aircraft

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European nations and Canada moved on Sunday to shut their airspace to Russian aircraft, an unprecedented step aimed at pressuring President Vladimir Putin to end his invasion of Ukraine, the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

A flight ban has already been introduced by the U.K., Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, the Baltic States, Romania and Bulgaria.

The bans mean that Russian aircraft won’t be able to fly over or land in the countries that introduce them. Planes will also have to take routes around the banned airspace in order to reach destinations not covered by the measure, which will delay the flight time.

With Sunday’s decision from Helsinki, almost all countries on the EU’s eastern flank will close their skies to Russia, making it very difficult for Russian planes to enter the EU. 

Russia has retaliated with similar measures against some of the countries that introduced the ban.

Some of the EU’s major airlines, including German Lufthansa, Dutch KLM and Polish LOT, cancelled their flights to Russia. The ban on Russian jets comes as the airline industry continues to grapple with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic that is still undermining global demand for travel.

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