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How surging oil prices amid Russia conflict pushes up airfare prices

The invasion of Ukraine has had a ripple effect around the world – and the sanctions on Russia, plus the country’s massive size, are making travel wildly expensive.

Travel is finally back on the table after a grim two years of the coronavirus pandemic, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing a new headache for the industry.

Sanctions against Russia, including the most recent banning of its oil imports, as well as the sheer size of the country, is now making travel expensive.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, many airlines flew over parts of the country.

Russia is the largest nation in the world and passing over at least part of the land mass was seen as an unavoidable part of air travel.

But growing fears there could be a repeat of MH17, when a Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down while flying over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing everyone on board, has forced airlines to take a different approach.

Recent data from Flight Radar 24 has shown the lengths airlines have had to go to avoid Russia.

Data from a Japan Airlines flight on March 4, that was flying from Tokyo to London, showed how much extra fuel the plane was forced to use to avoid Russian airspace.

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Instead of taking around 12 hours to fly from the Japanese capital to the UK, the flight took an extra three hours.

The extra hours of flight time not only means longer time in the air for passengers, but extra costs for the airline as it uses more fuel and needs staff to work longer hours.

Things have also been tricky for Russian airlines.

Aeroflot, Russia’s national carrier has been banned from most of the world’s airspace after the UK kicked off the punishment late last month and announced the airline was no longer welcome in its skies.

Data from Flight Radar 24 has shown Aeroflot is basically a domestic airline now, only operating international flights to Belarus.

The airline announced it was stopping all international flights from March 8, mainly in an attempt to stop aircraft from being seized in other countries.

Another thing making flights more expensive are the sanctions on Russian oil, which, before the invasion of Ukraine, was one of the biggest suppliers to Europe.

The United States this week led a Western assault on Moscow’s economic lifeline, banning imports of Russian oil.

US President Joe Biden heralded the American embargo as a hit on “the main artery of Russia’s economy” targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most crucial source of revenue – and vowed Ukraine would “never be a victory” for Mr Putin.

As the invasion approached its third week, Britain said it would phase out Russian oil by year’s end while oil giants BP and Shell announced an immediate halt to Russian oil and gas purchases and the European Union planned to slash gas imports by two-thirds.

The latest Western strike at Russia’s economy came as the United Nations said more than two million civilians have flooded across Ukraine’s borders to escape towns devastated by shelling and air strikes, in Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.

In a defiant speech to British politicians, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky invoked Winston Churchill’s resistance against Nazi Germany as he vowed to “fight to the end”.

“We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets,” he told the packed chamber, which gave him a standing ovation.

But he complained he was not receiving desperately needed air support.

Governments on both sides of the Atlantic have baulked at the idea of ​​a no-fly zone to defend Ukraine’s skies, with Mr Putin warning it would be considered as “participation in the conflict” with nuclear-armed Russia.

As Western nations look to tighten the economic screws on Moscow, faced with the snowballing humanitarian crisis, Russia has warned that oil sanctions would have “catastrophic consequences”.

But the United States led the push – partly because Russia accounts for less than 10 per cent of US oil and petroleum imports, making the impact on the world’s largest economy easier to bear.

Mr Biden said the United States, which last year imported $US17.5 billion ($A24 billion) in crude, fuel oil and petroleum products from Russia, according to census data, decided the ban “in close consultation” with allies, especially in Europe, who depends on Russia for 40 per cent of their oil needs.

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