Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways said on Thursday (Mar 17) it was not routing flights through Russia's airspace, joining a growing number of Asian airlines avoiding the area after the invasion of Ukraine despite longer flight times.
"We regularly review our flight routings internally and also with information provided by external parties," Cathay said in a statement to Reuters. "We are currently not flying through Russian airspace."
Flight paths on tracking website FlightRadar24 show, for example, that flight CX289 from Hong Kong to Frankfurt was avoiding Russian airspace on Thursday, taking a longer and more southerly route than the last flight on Mar 13.
Cathay declined to comment on when it stopped flying over Russia. Mainland Chinese carriers are continuing to use Russian airspace, according to FlightRadar24, but Korean Airlines said on Tuesday it would reroute flights, citing operational and safety concerns.
Japan's ANA Holdings and Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines are among other Asian carriers that are bypassing Russia, as are European airlines that are subject to a reciprocal airspace ban by Russia.
OPSGROUP, a membership-based organisation that shares information on flight risks, said on Wednesday that most airlines were avoiding Russian airspace because they are banned or have decided the risks of landing in Russia in an emergency are too high.
"Ultimately, we're now approaching a situation in Russia very similar to the Soviet Union days," OPSGROUP said. "Russia is essentially now in the same basket as Iran and North Korea in terms of being shut off from the rest of the aviation world, and operators need to plan accordingly."