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A fight is taking place at the top of the world. For a global population used to the traditional world map, it is not often considered that the shortest distance between two long-distance points in the northern hemisphere passes through Canada and/or Russia.

Today, we find the geographic truth of aviation – that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line – has largely been taken for granted in the post-Cold War era. The immediate effect of the new war closed off a major airspace corridor in Eastern Europe over Ukraine. The western response shut European, Canadian, and U.S. airspace to Russian airlines in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent response by Russia closing its airspace to the same. The top of the world is no longer crisscrossed by straight lines.

Related: Disconnecting Russia from aviation’s world order came gradually – then all at once

The negative effects of the new prohibitions on flight paths have been felt at North American, European, Russian, and Asian airlines – not to mention an increased global carbon footprint. Yet, these new restrictions do not hit all airlines equally. Despite the clear challenges to the flights now no longer allowed to fly the straighter lines of optimization, there exists a group of airlines who stand to benefit from the restrictions.

In this TAC Analysis, we reveal the losers – and winners – of the recent airspace restrictions. We examine the tactics used to circumvent the restricted areas for those carriers without access and identify the few airlines still with access to the top of the world. 

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Courtney Miller is Managing Director of Analysis for The Air Current. Miller most recently spent 10-years with Bombardier Aerospace, serving as director, North America sales for the company’s commercial aircraft line and led airline marketing and analysis for the western hemisphere for airlines in North and South America and the community of global aircraft lessors. Miller is also founder of visualapproach.io, where he merged industry history and analysis with insightful and beautiful data visualization to illustrate contemporary trends. Miller is a 3,000-hour U.S. airline pilot and began his career flying for U.S. regional airline Comair. He holds a Masters of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle University and a Bachelors of Science in Aviation Technology from Purdue University. He is based in the Dallas, Texas Metroplex.

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