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Aeroflot operates eight-hour flight to nowhere after turning back midway to New York

Aeroflot was forced to operate an eight-hour “flight to nowhere” after Canada banned Russian planes from its airspace in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

New York-bound flight SU124 departed from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport at 2.40pm on Sunday, 27 February, and flew more than a third of the journey before turning back.

Four hours in, when the Boeing 777 had almost got as far as Greenland, the decision was made to return to Russia.

Although the US has yet to follow in the footsteps of the UK and the EU in banning Russian airlines from its airspace, the news that Canada had done likewise gave the airline little choice but to recall the flight.

The regular Moscow-New York flight path used by Aeroflot takes a north-westerly route, flying over Finland, Sweden, Norway, Greenland and Canada before landing in the US.

With the news that the jet could no longer cross over Canadian airspace, the crew were left with limited options, as there was likely not enough fuel to reach New York if the plane was re-routed.

Instead of making the 10hr 45m journey to JFK airport as planned, the aircraft landed back in Moscow roughly eight hours after setting off.

Another Aeroflot flight on Sunday, however, appears to have contravened the airspace rules.

Flight 111 from Miami to Moscow was scheduled to depart at 1.55pm, and took off after Canada and the EU had banned Russian aircraft.

However, according to flight tracking websites, the plane still crossed over Canadian airspace.

Transport Canada has issued a warning and has said it is “investigating” the violation.

“We are aware that Aeroflot flight 111 violated the prohibition put in place earlier today on Russian flights using Canadian airspace,” it said in a statement.

“We are launching a review of the conduct of Aeroflot and the independent air navigation service provider, NAVCAN, leading up to this violation.

“We will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action and other measures to prevent future violations.”

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