United Airlines will no longer fly to India over Russian airspace, and two routes will be temporarily halted as a result.
The airline made it clear in a communication to employees on Tuesday that was verified by an airline representative confirming it was not Russia’s but their choice to stop using the airspace.
The notice stated, “United has decided to temporarily suspend transiting Russian airspace to operate our flights to and from BOM (Mumbai) and DEL (Delhi) India”
United presently flies to New Delhi and Mumbai from its hubs in Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO), and Chicago O’Hare (ORD). United is suspending its SFO-DEL and EWR-BOM operations for the next few days as a result of the lengthier routes necessitated by the airline’s avoidance of Russian airspace.
American Airlines, which competes with United on the new New York (JFK) – Delhi route, had never flown across Russian airspace before.
More than 35 Western countries have banned Russian operators from their airspace since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week, and Russia has responded with in-kind prohibitions. United’s decision came just hours after Vice President Joe Biden proposed a restriction on Russian aircraft flying over American airspace.
United’s usage of that airspace requires payment of overflight fees to the Russian government, at a time when Western companies are stepping up their efforts to terminate commercial connections with Russia’s government and industry. As a result, United’s move on Tuesday can be seen as yet another Western firm isolating Russia.
The Chicago-based airline stated in its notice that it has other routes available and that more changes could be made.
“We do, however, have available routes outside Russia, which allows us to continually operate the ORD-DEL and EWR-DEL routes,” read the message. “We may have additional adjustments to our flight schedule for India in the days ahead as the situation develops, but we remain in close communication with our crews in India.”
Avoiding Russian airspace can add a significant amount of time to flights between Asia and North America.
On its way back to Kennedy Airport, American’s New Delhi flight, for example, frequently makes a fuel stop in Bangor, Maine (BGR). That route is operated by the same Boeing 777-300ER that United uses to fly from Newark to Delhi. It’s unknown if United has any such technical halt planned.
– India’s new age travel digital media