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HomeNews & PoliticsTokyo-to-London flight takes polar route to avoid Russian airspace

Tokyo-to-London flight takes polar route to avoid Russian airspace

During the Russian incursion of Ukraine, an aircraft from Tokyo to London followed an unusual path across the northern polar regions on March 9. When flying across Russia, the journey from Tokyo to London lasted a median of 12 hours and 12 minutes.

The airline monitoring website FlightRadar24 estimates that the proposed route over Greenland, Alaska, Canada, and Iceland would take 14 hours, 38 minutes. According to reports, an aircraft from Helsinki to Tokyo took an unusually arctic path to skirt Russian airspace.

At least 21 aircraft have circumvented Russian territory since the start of March as a consequence of reciprocal prohibitions imposed by Russian officials on their planes or to avoid any possible problems when flying through Russia. Airlines have either diverted around Russia, increasing the length and distance of their aircraft, or have completely canceled flights on routes connecting Europe and Asia.

Flights avoiding Russia

Airlines flying across Asia and Europe have adjusted their routes southward to avoid flying into Russian territory. To go to  Korea, China, Japan, South and other Southeast Asian locations rather than Russia, planes now fly south through Turkey, Central Asia, China, and Mongolia first. One hour is added to the flight time when traveling eastward. Flights might now require up to 3 hours extra on the return fixture.

As a result of the closure of Russian air, Finnair’s trip connecting Helsinki as well as Tokyo and Japan Airways’ travel between Tokyo and London no longer travels via Russia. Both flights have changed their itineraries to skirt Russian airspace on these flights by flying north.

When flying across Russia, JL43 took an average of 12 hours and 12 minutes to go from Tokyo to London. This week’s estimated average duration was 14 hours and 38 minutes due to the new route that includes stops in Greenland, Alaska, Canada, and Iceland.

Tourists can fly from Europe to Japan in about 8 hours and 57 minutes with Finnair’s Helsinki-to-Tokyo flights. On March 9th, Finnair modified flight AY73 to avoid Russian territory by flying northwest from Helsinki through Svalbard into Alaska, then circling the Pacific further towards Japan. The proposed route increases flight duration by four hours.

Chinese carriers still use Russian airspace to fly between Europe and China, except for Russian domestic aircraft.

EU Also Bans Russia To Enter Its AirSpace

Russia has been sanctioned with some of the toughest measures the EU ever has levied on a third nation in the nearly one week since Russian forces began their invasion in Ukraine. EU sanctions on Russia have included travel bans, asset freezing, and a ban on state-owned news organizations including Russia Today or Sputnik as well as its affiliates. The EU has also attacked the Lukashenko government, alleging that it is involved in an assault on Ukrainian soil.


Russia has been prohibited from using its airspace by several organizations, including the European Union (EU). Ursula von der Leyen, EU Commission’s President made the announcement during a discussion on Sunday.

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