Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. will restart using Russian airspace several months after Moscow’s war in Ukraine upended the aviation industry and global flight paths, becoming among the earliest of major airlines to do so.
Hong Kong’s main airline will fly from New York to the Asian financial hub using the so-called Polar Route from November 1, the company said in an emailed response to a query by Bloomberg News. It cited strong headwinds and payload issues affecting its flights from the east coast of North America, and said its aircraft will overfly the far eastern part of Russia.
Cathay said in March that it rerouted flights away from Russian airspace. Resuming its use will slash some flight times and save money on fuel costs, but the airline has to pay an overflight fee per trip to Russian authorities for the right to fly over Siberia.
“There are other major airlines overflying Russian airspace and there are no sanctions which prevent Cathay Pacific overflying Russia,” Cathay said in the statement to Bloomberg. “The Polar Route provides a safe, direct and the fastest flight experience to our customers traveling from the East Coast of North America to Hong Kong.”
After flight bans were imposed on Russia in response to its war on Ukraine, Moscow retaliated by closing its airspace to countries and airlines it considered enemies. While the rule affects western carriers across Europe and North America, subsequently, most Asian airlines including Korean Air and All Nippon Airways stopped using Russian airspace, citing safety concerns.
Russian airspace spans 5,600 miles (9,012 kilometers) adjacent from the eastern fringes Asia and the US state of Alaska to the tip of northern Europe in Finland. Its airspace is a critical link and provides a short-cut on flight times via polar routes.