Airlines Told to Avoid Crimea Amid Russia-Ukraine Airspace Spat

Airlines have been advised to avoid Crimean airspace as Russia establishes an air traffic control service where one from Ukraine remains in place, raising the prospect of conflicting guidance and a threat to safety.

The European Aviation Safety Authority said it “strongly recommends” that member states make carriers aware of the potential danger and that routes be adjusted accordingly.

Control over airspace is regarded as a sovereign issue almost everywhere in the world. EASA acted after Russia put the aviation industry on notice that it will assert its claim to Crimea by providing air traffic services in an area of sky controlled from Simferopol and previously run by Ukraine.

“The agency draws the aviation communities’ attention to the possible existence of serious risks to the safety of international civil flights,” EASA said in a bulletin today.

Airlines will need to work with controllers in neighboring countries to ensure flightpaths can be altered. EASA didn’t have figures for the number of services transiting the Simferopol Flight Information Region, while saying it’s not widely used.

The Russian Geographical Society has already begun adding Crimea to maps of Russia, while Google Inc.’s mapping service -- which uses broken lines to delineate disputed areas -- still shows the area as belonging to Ukraine.

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