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Russia's threatening to block its airspace - Irish airlines say it's grand

If Russia did press ahead with a ban, it would have an impact on some European airlines, but this move would likely hurt Russia more than anyone.

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

YESTERDAY, RUSSIA’S Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev warned that the country may block flights through its airspace as retaliation against a new round of Western sanctions.

We proceed from the fact that we have friendly relations with our partners and that is why the sky over Russia is open for flights. But if they put limits on us we will have to respond.

In an interview with daily newspaper Vedomosti, he said this could mean that “many airlines” would go bankrupt. So we asked the two Irish airlines how it would impact them and it turns out, it wouldn’t really. At all.

Both Ryanair and Aer Lingus told TheJournal.ie that they do not fly through Russian airspace and so would not be affected.

However a number of other airlines that fly in and out of Ireland would still be affected. Air France and Lufthansa are likely to suffer most, according to Bloomberg as they have the highest number of flights across Siberia. A spokesperson for Lufthansa told us they were aware of reports of a possible ban but that it would be “premature” to comment on it now.

Though a British Airways spokesperson also declined to comment on “rumour and speculation”, the airline would need a Plan B if rumour became reality as it had 93 flights across this area in the space of a week.

However it is smaller airlines like Finnair Oyj, which operate just in this part of Europe, that stand to lose the most. This airline had 115 flights across Siberia in a week.

While the ban would have some impact on flights, it has been pointed out that Russia would actually be shooting itself in the foot with this move. The country’s own airlines obviously have more flights that cross European Union airspace and restrictions on this would have huge implications for its economy. So, for now, it may just be an empty threat.

- With additional reporting from AFP. 

Read: Fears over Ukraine truce as woman killed in heavy fighting overnight>

Opinion: Russia is in the driving seat of the Ukrainian crisis and she’s taking the West for a dangerous spin>

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