EU makes Belarus no-fly zone following Ryanair scandal

After the scandal with the forced landing of the Ryanair aircraft in Minsk, a number of European countries have urged their airlines not to use Belarusian airspace. Many air carriers have already started flying around the territory of Belarus.

The heads of EU countries decided to prohibit Belarusian air carriers from flying over the European Union. The decision is to be approved by the EU Council. To crown it all, EU leaders recommended that European airlines refuse to fly over the territory of Belarus.

Grant Shapps, the UK's Secretary of State for Transport, wrote on Twitter that Great Britain suspended the license for Belavia's flights to the UK. The British government demanded that airlines should avoid flying in Belarus airspace.

Lithuania's Transport Minister Marius Skuodis said that from midnight on May 25, all aircraft arriving in or departing from the country should not fly into airspace of Belarus.

The French authorities advised their airlines not to fly over the territory of Belarus for security reasons. According to the Secretary of State under the Ministry of Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Belavia's flight permit was suspended as well. Air France has stopped its flights in Belarus airspace.

Representatives of the Foreign Ministry of Poland also urged Polish airlines to fly over Belarus. Poland's LOT Airlines has decided to refuse from the use of Belarusian airspace.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy instructed the government to develop measures to end direct flights between Ukraine and Belarus and close the airspace of Belarus for flights to Ukraine. Air traffic between Ukraine and Belarus will be terminated starting from May 26, midnight, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal said.

The authorities of Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Finland decided to recommend local airlines to stop flights in Belarus airspace until the situation stabilizes. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the EU could impose further sanctions against Belarus. 

Such airlines as KLM (the Netherlands) and Lufthansa (Germany) have already announced their decisions to refuse from entering Belarusian airspace. AirBaltic (Latvia) was the first EU airline to have made such a decision. 

  • Interestingly, Utair, a Russian airline, made its flight from Moscow to Kaliningrad on May 23 bypassing Belarus.
  • The carrier later explained that the decision was made for reasons of fuel efficiency, whereas the return flight was carried out over the territory of Belarus. 
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