United Still Flying over Russia after US Peers Shift Routes

March 1, 2022

United Airlines Holdings Inc. is continuing to fly through Russian airspace even after other major U.S. airlines have diverted flights away from Russia amid growing tension over its invasion of Ukraine.

United’s flyovers involve routes connecting the U.S. and India, a spokeswoman for the carrier said Monday in an email. That includes flights linking Newark, New Jersey, with New Delhi and Mumbai and also between San Francisco and Mumbai.

“We are in frequent communication with the federal government on the issue,” said United spokeswoman Leslie Scott.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration barred U.S. airlines from flying over Belarus, Ukraine and part of western Russia on Feb. 24, but has not issued any further restrictions. Delta and American both last flew over Russia on Feb. 23, according to the airlines and flight maps from FlightAware.com, an online aircraft tracking and data company.

The U.S., Russia and other countries often assess overflight fees on foreign airlines to allow use of their airspace. The International Air Transport Association did not respond to a request for comment Monday on which of its members still fly over Russia and how much they paid in 2021.

Most of Europe closed its airspace to carriers from Russia on Sunday, and Russia reciprocated with its own bans.

American Airlines Group Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. said in separate emails they stopped flying over Russia last week, shifting routes linking U.S. cities to destinations such as Tokyo and Incheon, South Korea. American and Delta rerouted Asia flights to avoid paths over the Kamchatka Peninsula on Russia’s Pacific coast. Both declined further comment.

Delta flew over Russia at least eight times from Feb. 14 to Feb. 23 on routes from Detroit and Seattle to Incheon and Detroit to Tokyo, according to FlightAware. American was operating Dallas-Fort Worth to Tokyo and Dallas-Fort Worth to Incheon.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier on Monday indefinitely suspended interline agreements with Russian carriers Aeroflot and S7 Airlines that allow a single ticket to cover flights on multiple airlines, and its frequent-flier program with S7.


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