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Wizz Air is suspending flights as Russian tensions escalate in countries neighbouring Ukraine

Wizz Air is suspending flights to Moldova due to concerns over the safety of the country's airspace.
Wizz Air is suspending flights to Moldova due to concerns over the safety of the country's airspace. Copyright Reuters
Copyright Reuters
By Angela Symons with Reuters
Published on Updated
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As tensions with Russia escalate, travel in and out of Moldova is being affected.

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Wizz Air is suspending flights to Moldova for security reasons.

The Hungarian low-cost airline said a week ago it would pause flights to the Moldovan capital Chisinau from 14 March. This is due to concerns about the safety of the country's airspace.

Moldova's civil aviation authority has described the decision as sudden and regrettable.

Nice's football team have also advised fans not to travel to Moldova for a match they are playing there this week.

Why is Moldova deemed unsafe?

Tensions between Russia and Moldova have grown in recent months as Russian missiles aimed at Ukraine have entered Moldovan airspace. 

There are also fears Russia could intensify attempts to destabilise the country, which is reeling from the war in neighbouring Ukraine. Authorities have blamed the Kremlin for fuelling anti-government protests, something it denies.

Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said on Wednesday that his country was prepared for a "full spectrum of threats".

Wizz Air, the second largest airline in Moldova, states that the safety of its passengers and crew remain its "number one priority". It adds that "following the recent developments in Moldova and the elevated, but not imminent, risk in the country's airspace, Wizz Air has made the difficult but responsible decision to suspend all flights to Chisinau from the 14th of March."

Moldova's civil aviation authority says Moldovan authorities had been informed by email of Wizz Air's decision, adding the airline had sought approval for its summer flight schedule on 14 February, and received it on Monday.

Wizz Air will lay on replacement flights from neighbouring Romania

Wizz Air said in a statement it would lay on extra flights from the Romanian city of Iasi - around 150 km from Chisinau - as replacements. These will include a new service to Berlin, and more flights to Barcelona, Milan Bergamo, Bologna, Rome Ciampino, Rome Fuimicino, Dortumand, Larnaca, London Luton and Treviso.

Flights to Budapest and Prague will not be replaced and those inbound to Chisinau will be reallocated to other destinations in the Wizz Air network, it said.

Nice advises fans not to travel for Moldova match

French football team Nice is scheduled to play in Chisinau this Thursday. The match is against Sheriff, the national champion from the breakaway region Transnistria.

Nice has told their fans that the club "must take a responsible attitude,” describing the security situation for fans in Moldova as “unfavourable, to say the least.”

Sheriff is hosting the round of 16, first-leg game three weeks after its home game in the previous round was played in an empty stadium against Partizan from Serbia.

UEFA said on Friday that the Sheriff-Nice game should go ahead with fans in the stadium.

Nice has been selling tickets for €30 euros to its fans after the draw was made one week ago, and have said they will offer refunds if the game is postponed or played in an empty stadium.

Sheriff has played all its home games this season in UEFA competitions in Chisinau as a security precaution. The club’s home city Tiraspol is close to the Ukraine border.

What do Moldovan authorities say about the safety concerns?

"After analysing the risks, government agencies have determined that flights in the national airspace can be carried out safely by following a number of procedures, and they regret Wizz Air's sudden decision," a post on the Moldovan government's official Telegram channel says.

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It says the civil aviation authority and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Development had been in "constant cooperation" with Wizz Air representatives and informed them of the procedures in place to ensure aviation security.

The aviation authority says it will take "all necessary actions" to return Wizz Air to Chisinau airport as soon as possible, and to attract other low-cost airlines.

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