Almost half of Polish airspace on the eastern side of the country has been restricted to military use since the outbreak of war in Ukraine on Feb. 24, the CEO of the Polish air navigation agency has revealed.
Janusz Janiszewski, the head of the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA), told the Polish Press Agency that “the functioning of the Polish airspace has changed completely,” adding that “currently, half of the Polish airspace is restricted to the military, anti-air defense and allied forces.
“That means that almost half of Poland’s airspace is now only used by the military, to set up an air defense capable of deterring attack on the entirety of Polish airspace,” Janiszewski explained.
The PANSA CEO estimated that due to the closure of Ukraine and Moldova’s airspaces, in addition to the restrictions on Russia, the agency’s income could decrease by up to €8.5 million each quarter.
He explained that currently civilian air traffic is only being conducted only over the western part of the country: “Many airlines stay away from our eastern border at a distance of more or less 180 kilometers — that is where the air defense systems operate.”
Janiszewski also explained that civilian traffic had to be heavily restricted at the Rzeszów Airport in southwestern Poland, as the airport has become a military hub focused on allied operations.
Due to the military operations that are taking place in the airspace, civilian flights had to be rerouted:
“Today, the traffic is continuous, however we can already see a 30 percent decrease in transit traffic in the Polish airspace due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Janiszewski told the Polish news outlet, and warned that the current state of play will remain for some time yet.
“We should expect that this situation will not change in the coming weeks. That’s why we have to be ready for the delays in air traffic, due to the limitations that are targeted at ensuring air travel safety.”
Many flights are being rerouted over to Hungary, Czechia and Germany, with part of the Slovakian airspace also being closed to civilian flights.