Qantas on Sunday announced it was to change the flight path of its iconic Kangaroo service between Darwin and London.
From Sunday night, its 787-9s will now fly through the Middle East and southern Europe, rather than through Russia.
It comes soon after a series of tit-for-tat airspace bans, relating to the invasion of Ukraine, saw Russia block flights from carriers based in the UK, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic.
The new QF2 route will take an hour longer and the first flight to be affected saw VH-ZNI depart London at 10:05am local time, bound for Darwin.
Qantas said it would continue to monitor the situation and would “regularly review our flight paths and make any adjustments we consider prudent”.
While Russia has not yet banned Australian aircraft, tensions are likely to be inflamed with Prime Minister Scott Morrison supporting action to kick the country out of the SWIFT international payment system, rubber-stamped by the US on Sunday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also confirmed Australia would send weapons to Ukraine, after initially providing only humanitarian support.
Global reciprocal airspace bans began with the UK banning all Russian carriers, and business jets carrying high-profile Russian nationals, from its skies.
The move was followed by similar action from Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic before Russia hit back with reciprocal action. Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia on Saturday also said they would ban Russian flights.
“We invite all EU countries to do the same,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted. “There is no place for planes of the aggressor state in democratic skies”.
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa quoted Kallas’ tweet, adding, “Slovenia will do the same” before Latvia said its ban would be ratified at its next cabinet meeting.
This week, World of Aviation reported how all flights by civil aircraft were restricted inside Ukraine due to safety concerns.
As of 3:15 UTC time on Thursday, Ukraine airspace was “completely empty”, according to tracking site Flightradar24 after airlines scrambled to find alternate routes to dodge the war-torn nation.
Flights are also restricted within cities of Ukraine such as Kyiv, Dnipro, Lviv, Odesa, Simferopol FIR, Kyiv UIR.
The website Safe Airspace provides conflict zone and risk database warnings, birthed from the Malaysian Airlines MH17 aircraft disaster when operators had not been sufficiently warned.
On Thursday it said, “Regardless of the actual movements of Russian forces into Ukraine, the level of tension and uncertainty in Ukraine is now extreme.
“This itself gives rise to significant risk to civil aviation. For this reason, and based on OPSGROUP member discussions, we assess Ukraine as Level 1 – Do Not Fly.”
On Wednesday, the US Federal Aviation Administration banned all US operators from overflying the eastern part of Dnipro, among other states which have enforced similar prohibitions.