Insurance companies on Monday, removed cover for the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) fleet due to the threat of a Russian invasion of the country. The carrier said, at the request of its lessors, it has sent five Boeing 737-800 aircraft to be stored at Castellon in Spain, while two other aircraft have been flown to the Serbian capital Belgrade for scheduled maintenance.
“UIA is making efforts and is constantly negotiating with insurance companies, the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, and the State Aviation Service, and hopes for mutual understanding,” the flag-carrier said in a written statement.
The announcement by UIA came a day after the Ukrainian government committed approximately $545 million to provide guarantees for insurance companies, leasing groups, and airlines in the face of the anticipated risk. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said his administration, “is ready to make financial commitments for the safety of aircraft in the Ukrainian sky.”
In recent days, Dutch carrier KLM and Emirates became the first international airlines to suspend flights to and from Ukraine, and on November 14 low-cost carrier Norwegian announced it will be avoiding Ukrainian airspace en route to other destinations. Other international airlines appear to be considering their options as many foreigners are reportedly making urgent plans to leave the country. As of Monday afternoon, multiple international flights were still operating to and from Kyiv Boryspil International Airport.
For some time, international carriers have been avoiding the airspace over the east of Ukraine, close to its border with Russia, where the Kremlin has now deployed more than 100,000 troops, tanks, and heavy artillery. In July 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down while flying over the conflict zone after Russia invaded the Crimean region of Ukraine. All 298 passengers and crew of the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were killed when the Boeing 777 was shot down by a missile alleged to have been fired from territory controlled by the pro-Russian militia. Russia has refused to accept any responsibility for the attack and also declined to extradite four suspects, as requested by an international court in the Netherlands.