The tragedy in the sky over the Donbas will have many consequences. The information space has already exploded with huge amounts of recriminations between Ukraine and Russia. It is difficult to predict accurately how this difficult situation will be resolved, but one thing is certain: the crash of the Malaysian airliner has dealt another severe blow to Ukraine’s long-suffering aviation industry.

It suffices to recall that the events on the Maidan in Kiev already caused concern among carriers and passengers. Foreign diplomats described Kiev airports as dangerous and advised airlines from their countries to refrain from flying to Ukraine as much as possible. Against the backdrop of falling business and tourist activity and the consequent reduction of direct passenger traffic, such recommendations have reduced the volume of transit through Ukraine and hurt the country’s flagship carrier and main hub – the Boryspil airport.

The situation continued to deteriorate gradually, with airlines combating the crisis as best they could. Things will become much harder for them following the crash of the Malaysian Airlines’ Boeing 777 airplane: Ukraine’s airspace will now be considered far less safe than it was during the confrontations in Kiev, the foreign carriers that fly on transit through Ukraine will try to bypass it, and the passengers that traveled to their destinations via connect flights in Kiev will choose alternate routes.

The first effects are already visible. The airways over the area of the government’s “anti-terrorist operations” have been closed to flights completely. The Ukrainian companies with routes passing over the eastern regions of the country are changing their flight paths. "UIA informs that the airline company has changed its air routes over eastern Ukraine in order to ensure the safety of passengers, crew, and aircraft. All airplanes belonging to UIA use airways located at a distance of more than 200 kilometers from the border of the zone of the ‘anti-terrorist operations.’ Currently, all UIA flights - domestic and international, regular and charter - are operating according to schedule, and the airline is fulfilling its obligations to passengers in full," the airline company Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) said in a press release.

"Due to the tragic events, Wizz Air confirms that none of the airline’s flights will be performed over the territory of eastern Ukraine at this time," the press service of the Wizz Air Ukraine airline company said. However, the rerouting of flights will affect fuel consumption, which, in turn, will adversely affect Ukrainian carriers’ suffering businesses.

In addition, the political factor has had an immediate effect on air traffic between Ukraine and Russia. The Aeroflot airline company’s flight from Moscow to Kiev was canceled in the morning on July 18. According to information from the Boryspil airport, the Rossiya airline company also refused to fly to Ukraine. However, the Transaero airline company continues to operate flights to Ukraine: it performed both its flights from the Domodedovo and Vnukovo airports to Kiev’s Zhuliany airport on Friday, July 18.

The restrictions also affected regions of Ukraine. According to an official announcement by Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya), the Aeroflot airline company’s flights to Dnepropetrovsk were canceled on July 18, 19, and 20 while Transaero postponed its flight to Dnepropetrovsk that was scheduled for July 18.

In addition, the changes will affect Odessa. “The Aeroflot airline company has notified the Odessa International Airport of the cancellation of its own Odessa-Moscow (Sheremetyevo) flights SU1808 from July 18 to 25. In total, eight flights have been canceled," the Odessa airport said. Given the fact that Aeroflot is the airport’s third largest source of passenger traffic, its losses will be considerable.

If flights to Ukraine are adjusted in accordance with the current situation, then transit through Ukraine’s airspace will be prohibited to Russian carriers. "In connection with the crash of the Malaysian Airlines’ Boeing 777 airplane near the state border with the Russian Federation during fighting in Ukraine, domestic airlines are ceasing operation of transit flights through the airspace of that country. Routes are being created to bypass Ukraine, pass through the Russian Federation, and enter the airspaces of the other neighboring states that can ensure safe passage through their territories," Rosaviatsiya said.

According to its press release, flights will resume only after "unconditional and guaranteed safety in the airspace of Ukraine" is assured. As a result, the Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise (UkSATSE), which provides air navigation services for transit flights, will incur losses. In addition, the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned airlines under its jurisdiction from flying in the Dnepropetrovsk and Simferopol flight information regions.

There is a high degree of probability that all these reports will influence the decisions of other airlines when they are selecting routes, and many of them will try to avoid Ukraine’s airspace and suspend flights to Ukraine for safety reasons. The Emirati giant, Emirates, has already made such a decision. Its FlyDubai subsidiary has not yet officially announced discontinuation of flights to Kiev, but its July 18 flight to the Zhuliany airport was canceled.

All this is hitting the troubled Ukrainian aviation industry even harder. The fate of the industry will depend directly on resolution of the military/political situation in eastern Ukraine. Many operators on the air transport market risk being rendered idle if the situation escalates further.