What do Russia flight bans mean for international travel from Denmark?

Denmark has banned Russian aircraft from entering its airspace in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while Russia has reciprocated the ban against Denmark and a long list of other countries.

Aircraft at Copenhagen airport
Aircraft at Copenhagen airport. Some international routes will take longer following the closure of Russian airspace to aircraft from the EU. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark closed its airspace off to Russian aircraft in response to the latter country’s illegal invasion of Ukraine in a decision confirmed by Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod on Sunday.

For Danes and residents of Denmark, that could cause difficulties travelling to and from Russia, given that Russia on Monday reciprocated European countries’ flight bans by blocking aircraft from 36 countries, including Denmark and the entire EU as well as the UK, from entering its airspace.

The Russian decision came after the EU – not just Denmark – had forbidden Russian planes from using its airspace.

Aircraft from the following countries and territories are now banned from entering Russia:

Albania, Anguilla, Austria, Belgium, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark (including Greenland and Faroe Islands), Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Jersey, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom, Sweden.

The bans make travelling between the two countries by air impossible without rerouting through a third country which is unaffected by the decisions.

This means that longer routes will be required for travel from Denmark to some international destinations, particularly in East Asia.

Other routes from northern Europe most likely to be affected are those to the Middle East, India, Thailand and Australia.

“(Airlines) might need extra fuel or maybe won’t be able to operate the service without a stopover,” Paul Hulme Harrison, deputy chair with the Danish Engineers’ Association’s (Ingeniørforeningen) aviation society, told news wire Ritzau.

The Danish Chamber of Commerce (Dansk Erhverv) said that it expects the closure of Russian airspace to result in cancellations on direct routes between the EU and countries such as China, Japan and South Korea.

“That means that passengers from Europe will have to take a significantly longer reroute with more stops if they are going to the Far East, for example,” Jesper Kronborg, director of the organisation’s transport sector, told Ritzau in a written comment.

READ ALSO: Danish shipping giant Maersk to stop deliveries to Russian ports

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Denmark talks up flight tax to make air travel greener 

The Danish government hopes to introduce a 13 kroner tax on flight tickets to finance zero-emissions domestic flights.

Denmark talks up flight tax to make air travel greener 

The proposed tax, which would be introduced from 2025, would generate 200-230 million kroner annually, giving a total of 1.9 billion kroner over a nine-year period.

The revenue would be put towards prime minister Mette Frederiksen’s goal of all-green domestic flights in Denmark by 2030. 

“Air travel is – you have to be honest, when looking at climate change – a sector that pollutes too much,” climate and energy minister Dan Jørgensen said at a briefing held at Copenhagen Airport.

“But it is also a sector that is needed. Aircraft open the world for us,” he said.

Denmark plans to open its first green domestic flight in 2025, with all domestic flights becoming zero-emissions by 2030.

The Nordic country is, however, lagging behind neighbours Norway, Sweden, and Germany, who have already imposed green aviation taxes at a higher level than that proposed by the government. Other European countries have taken similar steps.

The proposal defines green flights as being 100 percent fuelled by sustainable energy sources and without fossil fuels.

Green domestic flights in Denmark would have a limited impact on the country’s carbon footprint.

While international flights comprise around 2-3 percent of Denmark’s overall CO2 emissions, domestic flights only make up a few percent of Denmark’s emissions from aviation.

The 13-krone tax, which could be adjusted in 2024 and 2029 in accordance with price changes, will be spent on green conversion, tax minister Jeppe Bruus said at the briefing.

“This is not a case of this tax helping put more money in state coffers but a contribution towards converting to green energy which we need on our air transport,” he said.

READ ALSO: Scandinavian airline SAS plans to launch electric planes in 2028