In 1982, the United States banned Aeroflot Russian Airlines from serving the United States. 4o years later, will we see a similar move?
Will We See A New United States Ban Against Aeroflot Russian Airlines?
In 1981, U.S. President Ronald Reagan announced that LOT Polish Airlines and Aeroflot would be banned from serving the USA, citing the Soviet-led crackdown against the Polish trade union movement (Solidarity). The LOT ban took effect in late 1981 while the Aeroflot ban took effect in early January 1982.
At the time, Aeroflot was world’s largest airline, with a worldwide network and bases in many Soviet Socialist Republics. At one point, Aeroflot had over 10,000 aircraft in its fleet, primarily for domestic transport within the USSR.
For two years, Aeroflot ticket offices remained open in Washington, DC and New York, selling Aeroflot tickets via Canada.
But after the Soviet downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 in 1983, Reagan ordered that the ticket offices be closed and directed the Civil Aeronautics Board to add additional restrictions, including:
- Suspending Aeroflot’s right to sell tickets in the USA
- Prohibiting U.S. airlines from selling tickets in the United States for transportation on Aeroflot
- Precluding U.S. airlines from carrying traffic to, from, or within the United States where an Aeroflot flight is on the ticket
- Directing U.S. airlines to suspend any interline service arrangements with Aeroflot (baggage transfers)
- Prohibiting U.S. airlines from accepting any tickets issued by Aeroflot for air travel to, from or within the United States
Aeroflot continued to offer IL-86 service from Moscow – Shannon – Gander – Havana, which strained U.S. relations with both Ireland and Canada (under a different Trudeau).
The U.S. ban was not lifted until 1990.
Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would recognize two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, as independent nations. Russian troops have now been sent in for “peacekeeping” reasons, confirming the fears of western voices that have been warning of an imminent Russian invasion for two weeks.
Could the U.S. respond by banning Aeroflot from the United States? It’s not unprecedented.
As the world waits to see if Russia will move westward in its invasion of Ukraine, the West has many tools at its disposal to disincentive such aggression. Germany has already responded by suspending the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline linking Russia and Europe. Might the U.S. and European powers also respond by banning Aeroflot? The coming days will be interesting.