.
T

here’s a hole in the aviation map. Tiny planes skirt around it, exposing the empty shapes of Ukraine, Moldova, and parts of Belarus and Russia. This void reveals the war zone enveloping the land and skies from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Some fear the reemergence of the Cold War, a return to when the Iron Curtain extended into the sky and blocked many sky routes to or through eastern Europe. While the travel sector today is facing severe impacts from the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, it’s not quite the Cold War yet. For now, the sector continues to wait and watch and, above all, adjust.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is severely disrupting flights and air routes. Ukraine closed its airspace as soon as the Russian invasion began on February 24. Moldova and part of Belarus followed suit. The European Union shut its airspace to Russian airplanes days later, and other countries such as the U.S., UK, Switzerland, and Canada did the same. Russia responded by blocking its airspace to the EU and other retaliating countries.

These disputes have redrawn the world air map as airlines rushed to cancel flights or reroute planes. Flights from Europe to Asia must now fly further south to avoid Russian airspace while also dodging areas of tension in the Middle East. The number of flights through Kazakh air space has already tripled since the European bans on Russian airlines.

This rerouting adds time and increases fuel costs, causing some airlines to completely suspend flights. The cutoff of supplies from the region and oil’s surging price mean an hour added to a flight will raise its cost substantially. The war could also impair airplane manufacturing and supply chains, raising prices further. 

Travelers to and from Russia face immediate consequences due to extensive sanctions and airspace restrictions. Even countries that have not restricted air travel from Russia will still be affected. For example, a decrease in Russian visitors is expected to negatively impact Southeast Asian destinations like Bali and Thailand.

The repercussions spread further. The IMF warned that the global economy faces severe impacts from the war, which will take a toll on the financial means people need to travel. This compounds upon an already weakened tourism economy left in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the war has people rethinking vacation plans to Europe. Some travel experts believe pent-up demand after the pandemic restrictions of the past two years will win out. However, there already have been lower bookings for Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and other Eastern European countries in the past week, according to InteleTravel. 

Europe is a massive continent, and most of its countries remain relatively untouched by the invasion and safe thus far. Western Europe also primarily drives European air traffic and tourism, and analysts expect it to remain relatively unaffected unless the conflict spreads. However, fear of the war’s expansion will likely deter travelers. Additionally, large refugee flows in central and eastern Europe from the crisis may discourage people from traveling via on-land measures such as trains in these areas.

The situation in Ukraine continues to evolve rapidly. The travel industry is adjusting to the current circumstances by canceling or rerouting flights, altering tours and cruise ports, and staying alert. However, the impacts on travel are likely to only get worse, striking a blow to the industry’s revival.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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First Covid, Now Russia: Travel Can’t Catch a Break

Dnipro, Kyiv, Ukraine, Kiev city metro. Photo by Rostislav Artov via Unsplash.

March 11, 2022

The travel sector was beginning to pick up momentum as COVID-19 restrictions subside, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine is hitting the sector hard and in a variety of ways. Diplomatic Courier's Whitney DeVries explores these impacts and what the sector is doing to adjust.

T

here’s a hole in the aviation map. Tiny planes skirt around it, exposing the empty shapes of Ukraine, Moldova, and parts of Belarus and Russia. This void reveals the war zone enveloping the land and skies from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Some fear the reemergence of the Cold War, a return to when the Iron Curtain extended into the sky and blocked many sky routes to or through eastern Europe. While the travel sector today is facing severe impacts from the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, it’s not quite the Cold War yet. For now, the sector continues to wait and watch and, above all, adjust.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is severely disrupting flights and air routes. Ukraine closed its airspace as soon as the Russian invasion began on February 24. Moldova and part of Belarus followed suit. The European Union shut its airspace to Russian airplanes days later, and other countries such as the U.S., UK, Switzerland, and Canada did the same. Russia responded by blocking its airspace to the EU and other retaliating countries.

These disputes have redrawn the world air map as airlines rushed to cancel flights or reroute planes. Flights from Europe to Asia must now fly further south to avoid Russian airspace while also dodging areas of tension in the Middle East. The number of flights through Kazakh air space has already tripled since the European bans on Russian airlines.

This rerouting adds time and increases fuel costs, causing some airlines to completely suspend flights. The cutoff of supplies from the region and oil’s surging price mean an hour added to a flight will raise its cost substantially. The war could also impair airplane manufacturing and supply chains, raising prices further. 

Travelers to and from Russia face immediate consequences due to extensive sanctions and airspace restrictions. Even countries that have not restricted air travel from Russia will still be affected. For example, a decrease in Russian visitors is expected to negatively impact Southeast Asian destinations like Bali and Thailand.

The repercussions spread further. The IMF warned that the global economy faces severe impacts from the war, which will take a toll on the financial means people need to travel. This compounds upon an already weakened tourism economy left in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the war has people rethinking vacation plans to Europe. Some travel experts believe pent-up demand after the pandemic restrictions of the past two years will win out. However, there already have been lower bookings for Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and other Eastern European countries in the past week, according to InteleTravel. 

Europe is a massive continent, and most of its countries remain relatively untouched by the invasion and safe thus far. Western Europe also primarily drives European air traffic and tourism, and analysts expect it to remain relatively unaffected unless the conflict spreads. However, fear of the war’s expansion will likely deter travelers. Additionally, large refugee flows in central and eastern Europe from the crisis may discourage people from traveling via on-land measures such as trains in these areas.

The situation in Ukraine continues to evolve rapidly. The travel industry is adjusting to the current circumstances by canceling or rerouting flights, altering tours and cruise ports, and staying alert. However, the impacts on travel are likely to only get worse, striking a blow to the industry’s revival.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.