KLM will not fly to Russia or use its airspace for at least seven days
Dutch airline KLM announced on Saturday it will cancel all flights to Russia which are scheduled to depart for the upcoming seven days. The airline will also stop using Russian airspace to other destinations during that time.
KLM said that it made the decision because the package of sanctions against Russia implemented by European governments forbids airlines from sending spare parts to Russia, even for use by the airline itself. “This means that we can no longer guarantee that flights to and over Russia can return safely,” the airline said in a statement.
The airline operates 19 flights to Russia per week, a spokesperson told ANP. It was not immediately known how KLM flights that normally use Russian airspace will continue to operate. Alternative routes are being investigated, and could include the Middle East, the spokesperson said.
On Saturday afternoon, KLM recalled two flights that took off from Schiphol for Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The flight to Moscow had nearly reached its destination when it suddenly turned around and was diverted to Copenhagen. It was to refuel there, and then fly back to Amsterdam. The flight to Saint Petersburg was diverted directly to Schiphol.
Earlier this week, KLM said it would not allow its crews to stay in Russia overnight due to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. KLM previously announced it would temporarily halt all flights to Kyiv, when Russia amassed troops along its border with Ukraine. KLM remains a codeshare partner with Malaysia Airlines.
The company was operating flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, when the Boeing 777 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine by a Buk missile. Nearly 300 people were killed, half of whom were Dutch citizens.