President Joe Biden is closing U.S. airspace to Russian aircraft, joining most European nations and Canada in response to the invasion of Ukraine, he said in his State of the Union address.
“Tonight I’m announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights, further isolating Russia and adding additional squeeze on their economy,” Biden said Tuesday night to bipartisan applause before Congress.
“He has no idea what’s coming,” Biden said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Moments later, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced it was issuing a legal notice for all aircraft owned, certified or operated by the Russian government or its citizens. The orders will be effective by the end of Wednesday.
The action is largely symbolic since earlier airspace closings have made it very difficult for Russian aircraft to reach the U.S. from most locations. Canada blocked two Russian aircraft attempting to return to Russia from the U.S. on Monday.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. said on Tuesday it would stop flying over Russia, becoming the last major U.S. passenger carrier to withdraw from the airspace following the invasion of Ukraine.
American Airlines Group Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. had earlier said they stopped flying over Russia on Feb. 23, shifting routes linking U.S. cities to destinations such as Tokyo and Incheon, South Korea.
As it has done for other nations that moved to ban its aircraft, Russia is likely to respond in kind to the U.S. order.
While impacts will be limited, it will prompt some flights to take longer routes, costing more for fuel and labor costs.
Details remain unclear, but U.S. cargo operators, which operate to more locations in the Persian Gulf and Asia, may have to make more adjustments than passenger carriers.
Meanwhile, Boeing Co. is suspending major operations in Moscow and temporarily restricting employees and partners in Russia from accessing sensitive technical data until it can secure export licenses from the U.S. government.