Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Infrastructure has denied reports that the country’s airspace has closed, calling them “not true.”
“The airspace closure is the sovereign right of Ukraine. At the moment the government has not taken such a decision,” Mustafa Nayyem said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
This was echoed by Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Mykhailo Podoliak who told CNN Sunday that “the sky over Ukraine remains open and safe” and “there have been no decisions to close the airspace.”
Dutch airline KLM announced in a statement Saturday that it would “immediately” stop flying to Ukraine following “an extensive safety analysis.”
But Nayyem played down fears that other carriers would suspend services to the country, remarking that “most airlines continue to operate without restrictions.”
Some carriers have had issues with “fluctuations in the insurance markets,” Nayyem said, branding this “obvious” considering the current information space and events.
However, Vyacheslav Chernyakhovsky, director of the Ukrainian Insurance Business Association, told CNN on Sunday that the “situation now is not very rosy” and highly changeable.
“It may indeed be that in the coming hours or days, some or even all international flights to Ukraine may be temporarily suspended,” Chernyakhovsky said.
Insurers are mindful “based on the experience of previous years and similar situations in other countries and in Ukraine itself” of their financial and moral responsibility and need “to protect themselves from potentially catastrophic events,” Chernyakhovsky added.
Air France told CNN on Sunday that it has no plans to suspend services to Ukraine. A company spokesperson for Lufthansa told CNN in a statement Sunday that “a suspension of services is being examined, but no decision has been made at the present time.”
The Ukrainian Ministry for Infrastructure held a meeting on Sunday with all carriers, the Office of the President and “other relevant services,” according to Nayyem.
The Ukrainian government expects the situation to “stabilize in the nearest future,” according to Nayyem, who reiterated the state’s willingness to “support air carriers” and provide “additional financial guarantees to support the aviation market,” no matter what happens.
If necessary, Nayyem added, Ukraine will also work to “ensure the return of all citizens of Ukraine from abroad” as further countries urge their citizens to leave Ukraine immediately.
Some context: In July 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Nearly two-thirds of the passengers on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch citizens.
Investigators concluded in 2018 that the flight had been brought down by a missile fired from a launcher belonging to Russia’s 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade. Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the incident, suggesting instead that Ukrainian forces shot down the plane.
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