Airlines

Canada and European Union Advise Airlines to Avoid Belarus After Ryanair Diversion

Canada and European Union Advise Airlines to Avoid Belarus After Ryanair Diversion
Joe Cortez

After a Ryanair flight was intercepted over Belarus and forced to land so local authorities could arrest opposition activist Roman Protasevich, both Canada and the European Union are asking airlines to avoid flying over the former Soviet nation. The EU is also beginning the process of banning Belarusian airlines from entering their airspace.

The international community is reacting to the interception and forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Belarus, in order to take political dissident Roman Protasevich into custody. Canada and the European Union are now asking airlines to fly over the former Soviet nation, as they determine how to approach the international debacle.

While EU Determines Punishment, Canada’s Move is More Ceremonial

Announced on Twitter, Canadian officials said their move is based directly on what happened aboard Ryanair Flight 4978 on Sunday, May 23, 2021. NPR reports the Ryanair flight was diverted to Minsk while flying over Belarus on an alleged bomb threat. A fighter jet escorted the aircraft back to the airport, where authorities arrested Protasevich, who is the editor of Belarusian news website Nexta and was an organizer of anti-government protests. A bomb was never discovered on the flight.

Although Canadian airlines have not yet resumed their full schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Transport Canada issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) asking Canadian aviators to not fly over Belarus. With limited aircraft operating over Europe, the move is mostly ceremonial.

However, the European Union is investigating ways to cut Belarus’ air access to the trade bloc. In addition to advising airlines to not fly over Belarus, NPR reports the European Council is considering preventing Belarusian carriers from landing at EU-based airports. Because Belarus is not a member of the European Union, the bloc can stop flag carrier Belavia and other carriers from landing inside Western Europe.

So far, Germany’s Lufthansa and The Netherlands’ KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have announced they would avoid Belarus airspace until further notice.

United States Condemns Landing, But Stops Short of Issuing Demands

The moves by Canada and the European Union puts pressure on the United States to make a formal move against Belarus. Although the Federal Aviation Administration has not issued a NOTAM requesting airlines avoid the airspace, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement “strongly condemning” the interception and forced landing to arrest Protasevich.

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1 Comment

  1. swampwiz

    June 5, 2021 at 9:44 am

    I can only imagine how crowded the air corridor through the Suwalki Gap (i.e., the border between Poland & Lithuania, that is between Belarus and the Kaliningrad region of Russia) will become!

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