Japan’s main airlines are developing resilience to flight path disruption following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, with the announcement of new routes and transit cities.
Japan Airlines (JAL) and ANA Holdings, which normally use Russian airspace for their Europe flights, had cancelled all passenger flights to and from Europe in early March, citing concerns about safety in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Some flights were later restored and, in recent days, the national carriers have released plans for further improvements to their European services.
As of March 28, JAL’s London and Helsinki flights will take a detour to avoid Russian and Ukrainian airspace. Options are to reroute over either Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Iceland or over Scandinavia and northern polar regions. The new routes take approximately four hours longer than previously.
The longer routes not only add to fuel costs but also deter passengers from new bookings – putting extra strain on a travel industry attempting to rebound from the worst of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, JAL’s flights to and from Frankfurt, Paris and Moscow remain suspended.
ANA’s flights may also follow a different flight route, have a longer flight time, depart or arrive at unscheduled times or be routed through another airport, according to a March 29 statement from ANA.
The airline’s Tokyo Haneda to Frankfurt route, for example, is now operating as a non-direct flight transiting in Vienna.
ANA’s new launch date for flights between Haneda and Milan, Haneda and Stockholm, Haneda and Istanbul, and Haneda and Moscow have yet to be confirmed. ANA will update once a decision is reached.