Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) on Wednesday ceased flights between the Crimean city of Simferopol and the Ukrainian capital Kiev after receiving written instructions from Simferopol International Airport that services must be suspended at least until March 18. A UIA spokesperson told AIN that the airport has banned all flights into and out of Simferopol except for those to and from Russia. The letter indicated “political and economic reasons” for the decision to limit service, said the spokesperson. Other airlines affected include UTAir Ukraine, Air Ukraine and Air Onix, she added.
“The discriminatory measures by Simferopol International airport cause inconvenience to hundreds of passengers both Ukrainians and foreigners,” noted Sergiy Fomenko, UIA executive vice president for commerce in a statement. “Termination of scheduled service between Kiev and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea [undermines] the image of Ukraine and Crimea alike and causes severe economic losses to both UIA and Simferopol International Airport.”
According to various media reports from Ukraine on Wednesday, pro-Russian forces continue to occupy the airport and have taken over air traffic control and the runway in an effort to prevent activists from Kiev from entering Crimea. The BBC reported on February 28 that armed militia members occupied Simferopol airport, but subsequent reports indicated that they had since left the site.