Update (0812 EST): The Moldovan Civil Air Authority has announced the Moldovan airspace has reopened after Romanian intelligence sources identified a Russian UAV in Moldovan airspace. The closure lasted about one hour.
At least 5 flights to Chisinau were canceled, redirected or delayed. Another 6 planes could not take off from Chisinau.
For the second time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova has closed its airspace. On February 24th, 2022, Moldova declared a state of emergency and closed its airspace in order to reduce the threat of civilian airliner shootdowns by Russian forces who were firing over Moldovan airspace into Ukraine. Their airspace did not reopen until the end of March, which still was limited to international flights through Romanian airspace.
Since the war started, Russian Black Sea Fleet vessels have repeatedly violated Moldovan airspace in order to fire into Ukraine. The Russian Federation has considerable political sway in Moldova due to Transnistria, officially the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR), a breakaway region on the Ukrainian border which is currently under military occupation of Russian intelligence and special forces. Russia uses its presence in this Russian majority region to influence Moldovan and Ukrainian politics.
However, at approximately, 0714 EST, reports began to emerge that this time, Moldovan airspace closed due to concerns over a Russian-backed coup against the Sandu administration. According to President Sandu the Russian Federation “called for attacks on government facilities, hostage-taking, and other violent operations by gangs of saboteurs in order to put the country “at the disposal of Russia” and thwart its aspirations to join the European Union.
Air Moldova confirmed the closure by 0720 EST with this announcement:
“Dear passengers, at this moment, the airspace of the Republic of Moldova is closed, we are waiting for the resumption of flights. Today’s scheduled schedule will undergo changes. Dear passengers, those who are at the airport, on board or are going to fly today, please keep calm and follow the information boards in the airport, online at www.airmoldova.md and www.airport.md.”
The restriction is reported to last until 1600 local time, which is a little more than an hour from now.
The NOTAM is valid until 1600 local time. It is reported that the reason is due to a Russian reconnaissance drone, although there is no official confirmation of this yet.
— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@aviationbrk) February 14, 2023