Aircraft traveling through Ukrainian airspace will no longer be insured by international insurance companies from Feb. 14, forcing flights to be grounded or canceled, according to Ukrainian publication Ukrainska Pravda.
The outlet quoted information from unnamed sources in the aviation industry.
Anatoliy Ivantsiv, head of Ukrainian insurance firm Expo, told Interfax that British reinsurance giant Lloyds announced it would temporarily cease all conflict risk insurance over Ukrainian airspace from Feb. 14.
Ukraine's infrastructure ministry announced on Feb. 13 that it would provide "additional financial guarantees" to carriers to ensure the continuation of international routes.
"In case of a need (to do so), the government will ensure the return of all Ukrainians from abroad," the ministry announced.
The revocation of insurance policies will likely mean that Ukrainian airlines, who lease almost all of their planes, will not be able to fly most of their fleets above Ukraine.
Dutch airline KLM cancelled all flights to Kyiv on Feb. 12, while on the same day Ukrainian carrier SkyUp was forced to divert a flight to Moldova as the leasing company which owned the plane refused to let it enter Ukrainian airspace.
This comes on the back of growing tensions along Ukraine’s borders with Russia and Belarus. Russia has stationed around 140,000 troops along Ukraine's eastern, southern, and northern borders, with the United States government now warning that an invasion threat is “imminent.”
During a press conference on Feb. 11, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned that an invasion of Ukraine could begin at any time, and would likely start with “aerial bombing and missile attacks” which threatened to “kill civilians without regard to their nationality.”
International fears of a large-scale Russian invasion now risk closing transport routes out of Ukraine. Avianews warned that Ukraine could soon become a “no-fly zone” due to the cancellation of commercial flights in Ukraine.
According to the publication, unless an agreement is made between the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure and international insurers and airlines, Ukraine will gradually be closed to air traffic.
The Ukrainian government still insists that it sees no reason to close Ukrainian airspace to commercial traffic. Advisor to Ukraine’s president’s chief of staff Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters on Sunday that closing Ukraine’s airspace was “nonsense” and akin to a “partial blockade.”
However, on Feb. 13, the Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise warned airlines against flying over the Black Sea. The state company labelled the area as “potentially dangerous” and advises aircraft not to fly over the sea’s open waters on Feb. 14-19.