Ukraine Special Report:
February 28-March 4, 2022
Read all about Ukraine! The United States and Europe close airspace to Russian aircraft but an Aeroflot jet eludes Canada's ban. Finnair is in financial turmoil as it loses its Russian business and Asian traffic. Russia bans flights from dozens of countries. United, Air France, KLM and SAS drop Asia flights because they can't overfly Russian territory. JAL and ANA drop Europe flights because they can't overfly Russia. Oil firms, retailers and sports groups bailing on Russia. Boeing and Airbus won't service aircraft operated by Russian carriers. Apple and Microsoft stop selling and servicing Russian customers. And more.

Ukraine Update: Friday, March 4, 2022

As Western sanctions begin to shut down business in Russia, Microsoft announced it, too, has stopped sales of new products and services in the country. Meanwhile, the Japanese electronics giant Panasonic says it will stop selling in Russia. Here are today's other developments:
        Around the horn   KLM says it will try to route some of its Asia flights over Kazakhstan, which would add about two hours to itineraries. Meanwhile, Japan Airlines says it is testing a Boeing 777-300 route today between Tokyo and London that will fly over Canada and Alaska to avoid Russian airspace. That'll add upwards of five hours to the run.
        Bye, bye   RT America, the U.S. arm of the Russia Today propaganda service, is shutting down after DirecTV dropped it. All staffers are being laid off. CNN has details.
        Shopping stop   Two large Sweden-based retailers, IKEA and H&M, say they will stop all sales in Russia and Belarus, a Russian vassal state.
        Phooey   Alexey Mordashov, who owns 34% of the German tourism giant TUI, resigned from TUI's supervisory board after EU sanctions deprived him of access to his shares.
        Not as big a deal as you've heard   TV networks yesterday made hay of the announcements by Sabre and Amadeus that they would stop selling tickets on Aeroflot. With sanctions, there were few tickets being sold anyway. More importantly, however, neither company said that they had cut Aeroflot and other Russian carriers off backend systems that run schedules and other airline operations. If the firms kick Aeroflot and the others off the so-called PSS systems, they'd essentially be grounded.
        Costly flying   Lufthansa says routing its flights around Russian airspace will cost the company--which includes Austrian, Swiss and Brussels airlines--millions of euros per month. Reuters has details.
        Think of the Russian tourists!   More than 150,000 Russian tourists were out of the country when the invasion of Ukraine began and more than 25,000 of them are in countries where airspace is closed to Russian airlines. That's according to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia. Interfax has details.

Ukraine Update: Thursday, March 3, 2022

Germany and France each impounded megayachts owned by Russian kleptocrats close to Vladimir Putin. One is estimated to be worth $600 million and have the largest pool ever installed on a yacht. But it only sleeps about 20, so there's that. Here are today's other developments:
        Gee Whiz Air   Wizz Air of Hungary is controlled by Bill Franke, the guy spearheading the Spirit and Frontier merger of drecky equals. Does it surprise you that Wizz Air alone didn't act fast enough to get planes and crews out of Ukraine before the invasion? It shouldn't. Forbes has details.
        Disinvited   Russian firms have been disinvited from England's Farnborough International Air Show, a major aviation-industry event scheduled for July.
        East-West woes   Japan's leading international carriers, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, have at least temporarily dropped flights to Europe. The problem? No reasonable routes that do not overfly Russian airspace. Reuters has details.
        Leasing losses   It's going to be a long, ugly and costly process to reclaim leased aircraft from Russian carriers. The leasing companies are required to do it as part of global sanctions against Russia. The Air Insight Group has details.
        You won't see HER anymore   Russian soprano Anna Netrebko has been hailed as one of the "greatest singers in history." But she's been fired for refusing to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine. New York's Metropolitan Opera made the announcement today. The New York Times has details.
        Hard knocks   The decisions by Boeing and Airbus to pull out of Russia will make it difficult or impossible for Russian airlines to maintain their fleets. Reuters has details.
        The sporting news   Roman Abramovich, friend of Putin and one of Russia's richest oligarchs, says he will sell the Chelsea football club of England. ... German soccer coach Daniel Farke quit as coach of the Russian team Krasnodar without ever managing a match. ... Everton, another British football club, is dumping its relationships with former owner Alisher Usmanov, owner of the aforementioned $600 million yacht impounded in Germany. ... After some halfway measures were rejected by other nations, the International Olympic Committee barred Russian and Belarussian athletes from the 2022 Beijing Paralympic Games, scheduled to open today.

Ukraine Update: Wednesday, March 2, 2022

President Biden announced during the state of the Union last night that Russian aircraft of all type will be banned from U.S. airspace starting tonight. Expect Russia to retaliate with a ban on overflights by U.S. aircraft. That'll require U.S. airlines to drop some Asia routes or reroute them with longer flight times and/or intermediate stops. Here are today's other developments:
        Route map adjustments   Hours before Biden announced the overflight ban, United Airlines said it would stop using Russian airspace for its flights to India. As a result two routes--San Francisco-Delhi and Newark-Mumbai will be temporarily dumped. Other India runs will be rerouted. ... Finnair says it has devised an alternate routing and will resume flights between its Helsinki hub and Tokyo on March 9. The new route will require 13 hours compared to 9.5 hours using the run that overflew Russia. ... SAS Scandinavian is dropping its Copenhagen-Tokyo run until May 1 because the carrier can't devise a route that does not overfly Russia. It'll continue flights to Shanghai, however the new route will take 11 hours compared to 9.5 hours.
        Alaska rolls crap   Alaska Airlines says it will stop Mileage Plan members from earning and burning miles on S7, a private Russian airline that has been part of the program.
        Boeing drops the hammer   Boeing is "suspending parts, maintenance and technical support services for Russian airlines." This will deal a major blow to domestic flights in Russia since Russian carriers won't be able to service their Boeing aircraft.
        Oily realities   ExxonMobil says it is bailing on Russia (statement here). ... The Swiss owner of Nord Stream 2, the controversial gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, has gone bankrupt and laid off all employees. Axios has details.
        Apple's out   Apple says it will not accept or fill orders from Russia effective immediately. There are no Apple stores in Russia, but Apple did a brisk online business selling to Russian consumers.
        You won't see him anymore II   Russian conductor Valery Gergiev was fired as conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. Milan officials yesterday barred him from his duties at La Scala opera house. The Washington Post has details.
        Chess moves   FIDE, the world chess body, has stripped Russia and Belarus of sanctioned chess tournaments. Russia has dominated global chess for most of the last 50 years, of course.
        And now the sports ...   Adidas says it suspended its partnership with the Russian Football Union. ... Russia has been stripped of hosting the men's Volleyball World Championships in August and September. ... The National Hockey League, which has many players born in Russia, says it will suspend all business relations with Russia. ... German coach Markus Gisdol quit as coach of Russian soccer club Lokomotiv Moscow in protest at Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine Update: Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Jack Sweeney, a teenager who infuriated Elon Musk by tracking the mogul's private aircraft and publishing the movements on Twitter, has expanded. His new Twitter feed, @RUOligarchJets, tracks aircraft owned or controlled by Russian oligarchs and kleptocrats. has details. Here are today's other developments:
        Some of our aircraft are missing   Leasing firms are facing the challenge of recalling jetliners worth billions of dollars from Russian airlines, Bloomberg News reports. More than half of the active commercial aircraft based in Russia are leased from firms based abroad. The details are here.
        Oily realities   Three major oil companies--BP, Shell and Total--say they are divesting their firms of Russian assets or curtailing investments in Russia. Separately, Canada says it imposed an embargo on Russian oil.
        The shipping news   Three major shipping operations--Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM--say they have ceased delivery to all Russian ports.
        Propaganda purge   DirecTV today abruptly dropped RT, the Russian propaganda channel formerly known as Russia Today. It follows a move from YouTube to block RT and Sputnik, another Russian outlet, from its Europe feed. Meanwhile, the EU is having legal and logistic trouble making good on its promise to block the channels from traditional television. has those details.
        You won't see him anymore   Russian conductor Valery Gergiev won't return to La Scala opera house, according to Milan Mayor Beppe Sala. Gergiev has refused to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. has details.
        Escape hatch   Airbnb says it is making free, short-term housing available to as many as 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. The company's statement is here.
        And now the sports ...   Adidas says it suspended its partnership with the Russian Football Union. ... Russia has been stripped of hosting the men's Volleyball World Championships in August and September. ... The National Hockey League, which has many players born in Russia, says it will suspend all business relations with Russia. ... German coach Markus Gisdol quit as coach of Russian soccer club Lokomotiv Moscow in protest at Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine Update: Monday, February 28, 2022

Russia is inflicting military pain on Ukraine, but Western financial sanctions are biting back. Moscow's stock market closed today, the ruble plunged nearly 30% against the U.S. dollar and the euro and the central bank was forced to more than double the interest rate to 20%. Here are today's other developments:
        We're closed   The European Union, the United Kingdom and virtually all of the rest of Europe have closed their airspace to Russian commercial aircraft and private jets owned by the oligarchs. Even a flight from Moscow carrying Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was forced to turn back because it couldn't find a route to Switzerland. (Lavrov was due to attend a conference in Zurich.) The Russians have responded by closing its airspace to 36 countries.
        The fog of sanctions   Canada has also closed its airspace to Russian aircraft, but an Aeroflot commercial flight yesterday was allowed to overfly the country. Canadian officials claimed it was an error by Nav Canada, the country's air traffic control system. Some sources say the Aeroflot aircraft duplicitously identified itself as a humanitarian flight.
        Finnair troubles   Finnair has suspended financial guidance, no surprise since it is the Western carrier most affected by Russian sanctions. It traditionally does a huge business connecting the West to St. Petersburg and Moscow via its Helsinki hub. It has also dropped most flights to Asia, which overfly Russian airspace.
        Air France adjusts   Air France has dropped flights from Paris to Japan, China and South Korea. There are no rational ways for the flights to avoid Russian air space and still operate to the destinations.
        Blast from the past   Ukrainian authorities claim they destroyed the BUK surface-to-air battery used by Donetsk rebels to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014. Remember the "fog of war" standard, however. That may or may not be true.
        No safe haven   Traditionally neutral in world affairs, Switzerland says it will observe European sanctions against Russia. It claims it will also freeze the assets of Russian plutocrats in Swiss banks.
        And now the sports ...   Manchester United has dropped its sponsorship deal with Aeroflot, a financial arrangement in place since 2013. Meanwhile, German football club Schalke has ended its deal with Gazprom, the Russian gas giant. And FIFA today banned Russia from international competitions after three nations--Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic--refused to play the Russian team in World Cup qualifying matches.