On Friday, Russia's state civil aviation regulator announced that British airlines are no longer permitted to land at its airports or fly through its airspace.
Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, London imposed an embargo on flights operated by Russian flag airline Aeroflot.
"The use of Russian airspace by aircraft owned, leased, or operated by an organization affiliated to or registered in the United Kingdom has been restricted," the Rosaviatsia aviation regulator said in a statement.
On Thursday, the United Kingdom barred Russia's official airline, Aeroflot, from landing in the nation. The move was part of a flurry of retaliatory measures in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. The UK's defense secretary, Ben Wallace, told ITV: "That, I believe, is their retaliation for our decision to ban Aeroflot from flying into and landing in the United Kingdom yesterday. This is their tit for tat answer." According to Russia's civil aviation organization, Rosaviatsia, the step was adopted "in response to unfriendly decisions by the UK aviation authorities about the prohibition on regular flights of aircraft owned, leased, or managed by a person linked to Russia or registered in Russia."
Following Russia's statement, Virgin Atlantic announced that some of its flights between the UK, Pakistan, and India had been rerouted. Flight times will be increased by 15 minutes to an hour on some routes.
"The safety and security of our customers and people always come first," Virgin Atlantic said, adding that it is "very closely watching the situation in Ukraine and Russia following the escalation of the war."
Virgin Atlantic's four-times-weekly cargo-only flights between London Heathrow and Shanghai have also been canceled. BA and Virgin Atlantic flights connecting Delhi, Islamabad, and London follow southern routes to avoid Russian airspace, according to Flightradar24 data.
According to data provider, Cirium, only Aeroflot and British Airways have flown people between the UK and Russia in the recent week. In the last seven days, there were 24 passenger flights booked between the UK and Russia. In January, 93 passenger flights were scheduled between the two countries. The sponsorship agreement between Manchester United and Aeroflot has come to an end, throwing another blow to the Russian airline. United's official carrier has been Aeroflot since 2013, and the most recent deal was expected to continue until 2023. United's contract was reportedly worth $40 million (£29.9 million) when it was extended in 2015.
Aeroflot has more passenger flights between the United Kingdom and Russia than British Airways. As a result, it is more influenced than its British cousin in this way. However, Russia's prohibitions are more stringent than the UK's, as they also prohibit British aircraft from flying across its airspace. This will necessitate rerouting certain aircraft, which will add time and fuel expenses. It's not simply about passenger transportation. Virgin Atlantic is still unsure if its cargo-only flights will be rerouted to China. According to the BBC, the total impact would be smaller than if it occurred prior to the pandemic. However, they cautioned that problems could arise in areas where airlines had intended to begin services once the network had restored to normal.