Mendenhall: Travel is Affected Amid Conflict Between Russia and Ukraine


Rachel Rydalch

Passenger walks by the Gordon Huether art piece at the Salt Lake International Airport on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. (Photo by Rachel Rydalch | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Addison Mendenhall


The Russian invasion of Ukraine has called for several countries to shut their airspaces down to prevent complications. These countries, such as Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and western Russia, have declared their airspaces to be “no-fly” zones. While directly flying over these countries is temporarily banned, several other countries have stopped upcoming flights to these destinations as well. These additional countries include the European Union, United Kingdom and Canada. With these countries containing some of the highest-trafficked airports in the world, travel is beginning to stall once again. This comes right as international travel has finally regained traction, two years into the pandemic.

However, these new limitations aren’t just affecting leisure and business travel. They also cause problems in learning abroad programs, particularly here at the University of Utah. We offer several different learning abroad opportunities in Ghana, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is not just affecting leisure and business travel, but those that study, learn or have internships abroad.

The U provides students traveling abroad internationally with many easily accessible resources. These include international safety guidelines and global internship resources. Resources like these contain important information that would help in several situations of crisis like accidents, sickness, security and other emergent situations. Following Russia and Ukraine’s war, it makes sense that more students would be eager to access these materials provided by the U. When COVID-19 hit, all learning abroad students had to make plans to return home immediately. Students studying abroad in areas nearby Russia and Ukraine should prepare to do the same.

Many airlines in the U.K. are being affected as a result of airspaces being shut down. Some of them include British Airways and Virgin Atlantic airlines. Each airline charters many flights both to and from Asian destinations. Routes to Tokyo, Beijing and Hong Kong fly over Siberia for long stretches of time. Even on quicker flights, flying over the Russian airspace allows for more efficient times for destinations like Pakistan and India. Without the utilization of these airspaces, airplanes are being forced to take long detours. As a result, travelers are more irritated, fuel has a possibility of running low and crew can’t take much-needed breaks.

While this doesn’t affect the Salt Lake City International airport directly, those that have connecting international flights will still feel the effects. One of Delta Airline’s biggest hubs is at the SLC international airport. Delta connects many international flights out of JFK and LAX airports. In addition, SLC International has gained lots of popularity and airlines in the last several years. With the addition of these airlines, there are more direct flights to Europe. This could prove to be problematic as the conflict in Ukraine unfolds.

The travel industry was hit hard amid the pandemic. Many European countries are slowly reintroducing tourism through a platform called “Re-open EU.” This plan to reopen travel has a step-by-step approach that caters to the safety of both travelers and host countries alike. Re-open EU’s website is regularly updated with information regarding travel and health measures throughout many countries as they prepare to welcome an influx of tourists once again. But with the Ukraine-Russia conflict hindering travel, the EU should have a similar plan in place to keep tourists and travelers updated about the status of their countries and their airspaces/travel conditions.

Many people have participated in some form of travel, whether it be leisure travel, business-related travel or educational-based travel like study abroad internships. To a certain extent, many people need to be aware of current events that might affect their safety while traveling abroad. This is relevant to not just us as university students, but also to the public. Staying educated about our local travel mandates is just as important as being aware of international travel guidelines that might apply.

Taking the time to explore resources and weighing out options is greatly beneficial if you plan to be traveling outside of the country soon. Staying involved and following along with the Ukrainian and Russian conflict is one way to guarantee safe international travel during this time.


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