After a weather balloon-like item was sighted in the skies above Soroca, Moldova’s Civil Aviation Authority acknowledged that air traffic had been briefly suspended.
After a brief halt due to safety concerns, Moldova’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has reopened its airspace. The aviation organization said that it had issued a NOTAM on Tuesday morning in response to reports of an object resembling a weather balloon near Soroca. The NOTAM was in force until 14:46 EET.
The CAA clarified the situation in a statement published Tuesday evening, confirming that it had made the decision to temporarily close its airspace on Tuesday afternoon following the detection of an unidentified object “similar to a weather balloon” in the airspace near the Ukrainian border city of Soroca.
In order to safeguard the safety and security of the public, the Interdepartmental Commission for Airspace Management decided to temporarily limit airspace at 13:24 due to the weather and the difficulty of tracking the object and determining its identity as well as its flight path.
At 14:46, the airspace was reopened at the suggestion of the Ministry of Defense after the information had been verified and there was no longer any threat to the safety of the public. The Moldovan CAA went on to say that “safe and secure conditions” were still being maintained for all flight operations.
Uncertainty exists over the event’s connection to a comparable incident that was reported in Romania on Tuesday afternoon. To intercept a suspicious item that appeared to be a weather balloon in the southeast of the nation, two MiG-21s of the Romanian Air Force were scrambled.
Before heading back to base, the aircraft crew circled the area for a half hour but were unable to obtain visual or radar confirmation of the object. In a subsequent statement, Romania’s Ministry of National Defense omitted to say whether the two sightings were connected.
The nation’s flag carrier Air Moldova was the first to confirm the shutdown of the airspace, notifying its clients via Facebook of a probable inconvenience. In a later afternoon update, the airline noted that there are no changes to the schedules for its Lisbon (LIS) and Paris (BVA) services. The flight to Istanbul (IST) from today has been rescheduled till Wednesday.
As tensions between Chişinău and Moscow have increased, conjecture has arisen as a result of the CAA’s initial failure to provide a cause for the closing of the airspace.
Two Russian Kalibr cruise missiles that were headed for targets in Ukraine allegedly crossed into Moldovan airspace on February 10, according to the Moldovan government, sparking a diplomatic dispute. Due to the proximity of Romania to both missiles—just 22 miles—it has also found itself on the verge of the conflict.
Previously, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Moldova suspended civilian air operations for a few of weeks. For a short time, certain airlines, including Wizz Air, changed their Chișinău (KIV) operations, choosing to book flights into and out of the adjacent Iași International Airport (IAS) in Romania.
Despite reopening its airspace on March 21, 2022, the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian conflict still poses a risk of spillover, according to warnings from NAV Canada, AIC France, and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).