Travel to Europe may be affected due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and the Ukraine.

The Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise has closed all airspace over Ukraine, meaning airlines have had to scramble to reroute flight paths overnight.

Countries that border the Ukraine and Russia have also halted flights – Moldova, southwest of the Ukraine and Belarus to the north said civilian flights could no longer fly over part of its territory. An El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Toronto had to make a U-turn out of Ukraine’s airspace at the time of its closure and a LOT Polish flight from Warsaw to Kyiv was forced to turn back as were flights operated by Air India and Aegean Airlines. 

Canstar reports that commercial flights have stopped flying over Ukraine: “While the situation is rapidly evolving, as of earlier this week, a number of commercial airlines had already cancelled flights to and from Ukraine.”

“Dutch carrier KLM was the first to suspend flights to and from Ukraine, and they have since been joined by airlines including Lufthansa, Air France and Scandinavian Airlines,” Canstar reports.

“Major insurance companies have indicated that they will not insure flights travelling in Ukrainian airspace. In response to this, Ukraine International Airlines said last week that it would continue flights with the help of a financial support package from the government, but at the time of writing, it is unclear if flights are continuing” 

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said Ukraine’s skies and airspace in Russia and Belarus within 100 nautical miles of borders with Ukraine could pose risks.

“In particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft,” the agency said.

“The presence and possible use of a wide range of ground and airborne warfare systems poses a high risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels.”

The US Federal Aviation Administration has also expanded an area in or near Ukraine where US airlines are not permitted to operate. 

Australia’s Smart Traveller website does not currently have any travel warnings for countries that do not share a border with Russia or Ukraine so you can still travel to other European countries. 

Florida-based travel adviser Gwen Kozlowski told CNN Travel on February 24 via email that her agency has had questions from travellers with upcoming trips to Poland, but no cancellations so far: “We have guests travelling at the end of March and into April in Poland, but that’s over a month out. It’s impossible to say now how this will evolve. We’re basically in wait-and-see mode.”

For Australians planning to travel to Europe, Smartraveller advise not to travel to the Ukraine or Belarus and reconsider their need to travel to Russia. The rest of Europe are currently unaffected.

According to Canstar Research, most travel insurance policies contain general exclusions relating to war. In fact, Canstar Research analysed policies provided by each of the 13 travel insurance underwriters on its database and found that all had a general exclusion relating to war. This was based on a review of the PDS of one of the policies provided by each travel insurance underwriter on the database, but may not reflect the conditions of all travel insurance products available for purchase. Be sure to check your own policy carefully and speak to your provider if necessary to understand what events and risks are excluded.

In terms of the travel advisory levels and what they can mean for your travel insurance, the Smartraveller website outlines each different alert level in detail.

Allianz and AAMI’s travel insurance policies and will not cover you for ‘any war, whether it has been formally declared or not.’

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