Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Belarus’ National Airline Suspends More Flights to EU Countries

The Belarusian air carrier Belavia has announced that it will temporarily suspend flights to many worldwide destinations after the incident related to the emergency landing of Ireland’s flag carrier Ryanair Flight FR4978 to Belarus on May 23, which was planned to land in Lithuania from Greece.

According to the authorities in Belarus, the emergency landing came due to a potential security threat, but other local media reported that the plane landed in Belarus’ capital in order to arrest the journalist Roman Protasevich and his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Since the events involving the Belarusian air carrier, many flights have been temporarily frozen in order to prevent another similar situation.

In addition, the European Union leaders issued a joint statement expressing their concerns that involved the arrests, calling on the EU-based airlines to avoid the airspace of Belarus until details are revealed.

However, the airline itself decided to suspend flights due to the current situation. According to press releases published by the Belarus flag carrier official page, the cancellation of flights from May 29 until June 30 will affect the following countries:

  • Belgrade
  • Budapest
  • Chisinau
  • Kishinev
  • Larnaca

In addition, Belavia’s website announced that flights to Tallinn, Estonia, would also be temporarily suspended from May 28 until the end of August.

“Belavia is forced to cancel flights to Tallinn from May 28 to August 28, 2021, due to a flight ban imposed by the Estonian aviation authorities. We apologize to passengers for inconveniences that have arisen from reasons beyond the airline’s control,” the statement emphasized.

Besides the destinations mentioned above, authorities of the national airline of Belarus announced that from May 27, the flights have been suspended to the following locations and will remain so until October 30.

  • Amsterdam
  • Barcelona
  • Berlin
  • Brussels
  • Frankfurt
  • Hannover
  • Kaliningrad
  • Milan
  • Munich
  • Rome
  • Vienna
  • Warsaw

Multiple announcements regarding flight cancellations had also been issued by the flag carrier of Belarus before May 27. Belavia’s authorities announced that flights would be temporarily suspended to the following destinations.

  • Finland
  • Czechia
  • Latvia
  • Sweden
  • Ukraine
  • UK
  • France
  • Lithuania

However, the suspension of flights, which includes many countries, will not affect Istanbul. Belavia’s authorities announced that flights to Istanbul would operate with an amended route.

According to the airline’s announcement, “scheduled flights to Istanbul will follow a modified timetable due to the need to overfly the airspace of a number of countries.”

In order to help the affected travellers, the airline is looking to refund passengers or help them change their flight dates.

“Airline specialists are calculating possible routing options for scheduled and charter flights that are affected by the bans in order to determine their feasibility,” the statement clarifies.

Airline officials have apologized to travellers for the inconvenience situation “caused by no fault of ours.”

Ryanair Flight FR4978 Incident

According to some local media reports, the diversion was allegedly planned by the president of Belarus, Aleksander Lukashenko, in order to arrest Protasevich.

Such “potentially unlawful actions” have been condemned by the International Aviation Association (IATA) Director-General Willie Walsh through a statement.

“IATA strongly condemns any interference or requirement for the landing of civil aviation operations that are inconsistent with the rules of international law. The details of the event with flight FR 4978 are not clear. A full investigation by competent international authorities is needed,” Walsh pointed out.

The Ryanair Flight FR4978 incident pushed several airlines across Europe to reroute their flights and stay clear of Belarusian airspace.

Latvia’s flag carrier Air Baltic and Hungary’s airline Wizz Air announced that they would be taking detours, while authorities in Sweden and the UK are calling their airlines to do the same. In addition, leaders in Latvia called on their citizens currently in Belarus to leave the country.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, called the regime’s behaviour ‘outrageous and illegal.’

The Ryanair Flight FR4978 incident was not the only one reported recently. On Sunday, a Ryanair flight FR1901 travelling from Ireland to Poland diverted to Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport in Germany.

Such an announcement was confirmed by the airline’s authorities, who stressed that the emergency landing happened due to a “bomb threat.”

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