Breaking: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the flagship airline of the Netherlands, has suspended all flights to Ukraine over fears of an impending Russian invasion. Effective immediately, KLM has ceased flying to Ukraine.
In an official statement released on February 12th, the Dutch airline indicated they have ceased all flights to Ukraine. KLM already minimized flights over or to the Crimea region of Ukraine, however, still flew to places like the capital city of Kiev.
However, with the official statement, the airline noted that all flight traffic is ceased.
As the Russian buildup of military forces continues, the airline, like much of the world, is concerned about the threat of a Russian invasion.
“KLM stops flying to Ukraine. The next flight to the capital Kiev is scheduled for tonight, but will not be operated. This decision follows the adjusted travel advice to code red and an extensive safety analysis. It is not yet clear when KLM will fly to Kiev again. KLM has not been flying over the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea since 2014. There are now no more KLM flights through Ukrainian airspace until further notice. KLM always puts the safety of passengers and employees first in the conduct of its operation. Choosing safe and optimal routes is a standard part of our daily practice. KLM uses a security management system to analyze risks in order to determine safe flight routes. This analysis also uses information that is shared within the Dutch expert group, which includes all Dutch airlines, the intelligence services, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NCTV and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The decision not to fly over or to a specific country is based on the most current analyzes at that time.”KLM Official Statement
A Ukrainian MP also indicated early Sunday that the potential suspension of all air traffic was a possibility as early as Monday, indicating that some insurance companies have stated they cannot insure civilian aircraft over Ukrainian airspace. According to the report, an Irish-owned SkyUp flight that originated in Portugal was forced to land in Chisinau after the owner of the plane informed them it had banned flights to Kiev.
As noted by CNN, recent satellite imagery shows even more Russian forces amassing along the Ukrainian border including in the previously contested area of Crimea, Russian territory and Belarus, a Russian ally. That same report notes that Russian forces now surround the resource-rich country of Ukraine on three sides.
For its part, the US State Department also issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel advisory, strongly urging Americans to avoid travel to Ukraine.
“Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19; those in Ukraine should depart immediately via commercial or private means. If remaining in Ukraine, exercise increased caution due to crime, civil unrest, and potential combat operations should Russia take military action. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.”State Department, Feb 12
The US Embassy in Kiev also suspended all consular services as of February 13th. It had previously ordered the departure of all State Department families of employees stationed in Kiev.