In fact, questions about how the war in Ukraine will affect the travel industry is currently out of the question. “These questions are in the background now. People are dying in Ukraine, people you know, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee, that’s what matters now,” Martin Lang Seibenthaler of travel agency Dreizackreisen that specializes in destinations in Eastern Europe says in short.
In addition, tourism in the region has collapsed not only since the outbreak of war, but since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014. Over the years, this has simply disappeared from the public eye, according to Lang Seibenthaler.
In light of the current escalation, his company – like many other providers – has removed all flights to Belarus, Russia and Ukraine from the program. However, Ukraine has not always been a holiday destination for tourists, but primarily for cultural and educational travelers, Lange-Siebenthaler explains.
Air traffic affected around the world
Regardless, the war also affects travelers who do not want to go to the area at all. Airspace over Russia has been closed to civilian aircraft from Germany and 35 other countries, including France, Poland, Finland and Canada. In contrast, the European Union has not allowed Russian planes to fly or land in Europe since February 26.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has already issued safety instructions to airlines operating in the airspace around the war zone, including the Republic of Moldova and Belarus, on February 24, immediately after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Global warnings are initially valid for 90 days if not previously updated.
flightradar24 map as of March 1, 2022 shows no more (civilian) aircraft flying over Ukraine
This has consequences. Airlines are preparing for the possible prolonged closure of key east-west flight lanes. Wolf-Dietrich Kindt, head of strategy and communication at the German Aerospace Confederation (BDL), told DW that the changing conditions are associated with additional burdens on airlines: “Flights to the Far East, which usually fly through Russia, take alternate route routes. This leads to leads to longer flight times and longer routes, which in turn increases fuel requirements and therefore costs for airlines.”
Longer mileage, more expensive fuel
The Lufthansa website says: “On Lufthansa flights to the Far East, there may be short-term changes in departure and arrival times due to rescheduling of itineraries.” A DW spokeswoman said the airline expects flights to Seoul in South Korea to take about 90 minutes longer, and flights to Tokyo will have to take an extra two hours into consideration.
Kerosene has also become increasingly expensive as a result of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine
At the same time, oil prices rose in the meantime to more than $100 per barrel. This sudden rise could have an impact on the airline industry, which is just recovering from the pandemic – and with it customers.
On behalf of the airlines represented by his association, a spokesperson for the Banque du Liban responds to questions of concern from travelers about whether it is at all possible and advisable to come to Europe: “Europe is open and safe and we welcome all guests.”
Tourism experts assure that tourists who have planned a vacation in Poland or the Baltic countries, for example, can travel without any problems. However, they will have to deal with the humanitarian catastrophe that Ukraine’s neighboring countries are feeling. So far, nearly 700,000 people have fled Ukraine.
Refugees from Ukraine after arriving in Kortzowa, Poland
The cruise industry has also responded to the new situation. After Norwegian Cruise Line was the first provider to cancel all cruises to Russia on Thursday, TUI Cruises, MSC Cruises and AIDA Cruises followed shortly thereafter. All shipping companies canceled all calls to St. Petersburg this year in response to the Russian attack on Ukraine.
Cruise lines such as AIDA have dropped Russian ports from their program
The company Phoenix Risen, which provides ocean and river cruises, canceled all tours on the Volga for the months of April and May, but, according to its spokeswoman, reserved the right to take “other steps.”
The tourism industry is helpless in the face of the situation in Ukraine. A slight rebound after the disastrous Corona years is just becoming apparent, when holiday-hungry people worry about images of war. All that remains is the “principle of hope”, asserts a statement from the German Travel Association (DRV): “It is hoped that diplomacy will win quickly and that Russian military operations in Ukraine will cease.”
Basically, the following applies: events happen quickly and travelers must know the exact current situation before they depart. For example, on March 1, the German Foreign Ministry asked German citizens to consider leaving Russia. Travel to the Russian Federation is not recommended, and travel to southern Russia in the border areas with Ukraine has even been warned. Travel plans should be reviewed in any case, and trips should be postponed or canceled if possible.