British airlines have been banned from landing at Russia’s airports and from crossing its airspace, the Russian civil aviation regulator has said.
Russia said the move was a response to “the unfriendly decisions by the UK aviation authorities”.
On Thursday, the UK banned Russia’s national airline Aeroflot from landing in Britain, a measure that was part of sanctions introduced following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told ITV:
I think that’s their retaliation for us yesterday banning Aeroflot from using and landing in the United Kingdom. That’s their tit for tat response.
Russia’s civil aviation authority Rosaviatsia said:
This measure was taken in accordance with the provisions of the Intergovernmental Air Services Agreement between Russia and the UK as a response to unfriendly decisions by the UK aviation authorities regarding the restriction on regular flights of aircraft owned, leased or operated by a person associated with Russia or registered in Russia.
British Airways said in a statement it was notifying customers on cancelled services and would offer full refunds. The airline said:
We apologise for the inconvenience but this is clearly a matter beyond our control. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.
Data provider Cirium said Aeroflot and British Airways were the only carriers flying passengers between the UK and Russia over the past week.
Aeroflot had 16 flights scheduled between London Heathrow and Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport, while British Airways had eight.
Manchester United terminated their sponsorship deal with the Russian airline. Aeroflot had been United’s official carrier since 2013 and the latest deal was due to run until 2023. United renewed the deal in 2015, signing a five-year extension reported to be worth $40m (£29.9m).
Aeroflot has been running more passenger services between the UK and Russia than British Airways. So in that regard, it is more affected than its British counterpart.
However, Russia’s restrictions go further than the UK’s in that it is also banning British airlines from crossing its airspace. That means re-routing some flights, adding time and fuel costs.