Aeroflot's International Flights End After Russia Says West May Take Planes

Russian airline Aeroflot said Saturday that it will suspend all of its international flights starting on March 8, but will continue its flights to neighboring country Belarus.

The suspension means that Aeroflot tickets for passengers who are scheduled to fly out of Russia after March 6 and set to return after March 8 will be canceled, the Associated Press reported, with Aeroflot saying in a statement that the decision was made due to "circumstances that hinder operating flights."

Rosaviatsiya, the country's aviation agency, recommended on Saturday that all Russian airlines with foreign-leased planes should suspend passenger and cargo flights traveling internationally. The agency warned that those flights could be seized by foreign governments as part of western sanctions on Russia that prohibit leasing planes to the country.

However, Russian airlines that fly Russian planes or foreign planes that are not at risk of being seized don't need to follow the aviation agency's recommendation. The recommendation also doesn't apply to non-Russian airlines that belong to countries that have not launched sanctions on Russia and still have their airspace open for Russian flights.

Russia's biggest private airline, S7, made a similar move as it decided to suspend all international flights starting Saturday, according to the AP.

Aeroflot's announcement comes amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24 and unfolded a wide-scale impact among civilians as thousands of Ukrainians fled the country.

On February 27, Canada and Europe announced that they would close their airspace to Russian airlines in response to the invasion.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union would shut down its airspace to planes owned, registered or controlled by Russians including "the private jets of oligarchs."

"They won't be able to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the EU," she added.

Some non-Russian airlines such as Delta Air Lines suspended its code-sharing partnership with Aeroflot, which allowed airlines to sell seats on each other's flights.

"We have removed our code from Aeroflot-operated services beyond Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport and removed Aeroflot's code from Delta-operated services from Los Angeles and New York-JFK. Accommodations will be made for customers affected by these changes," Delta said in a statement on February 25, adding that it does not operate flights to Ukraine or Russia.

Newsweek contacted Aeroflot and Rosaviatsiya for comments and will update the story once a response is received.

The story has been updated to include additional information.

Aeroflot’s International Flights End
Rosaviatsiya ,the Russian aviation agency, warned that those flights could be seized by foreign governments as part of western sanctions on Russia that prohibit leasing planes to the country. Above, an Airbus A320 belonging to the Russian company Aeroflot prepares to take off on September 26, 2017 from Toulouse-Blagnac airport in southwestern France. Photo credit should read PASCAL PAVANI/AFP via Getty Images