Air France said Air France had to cancel another flight from Paris to Moscow due to Russia’s refusal to change course and bypass Belarusian airspace. Another flight was canceled on Wednesday for the same reason, and the EU’s top diplomat fears an escalation of the “air row”. A Kremlin spokesman acknowledged that the problems were of a “purely technical” but rather technical nature.
“Air France has confirmed the cancellation of flight AF1154 (…) for operational reasons related to bypassing Belarusian airspace, which requires a new permit from the Russian authorities to enter its territory,” the company said in a statement. The airline had to cancel two flights because of this – one on Wednesday and one on Friday. The European Union has imposed a ban on flights over Belarus after Sunday’s incident involving the seizure of a Ryanair airliner and the police’s detention of passengers on board at Minsk airport.
Similar difficulties faced Austrian Airlines, which also had to cancel the Vienna-Moscow flight on Thursday because it had not received permission from Russia to change its course. However, the Austrian airline said on Friday that Russian authorities had finally allowed a return flight on the Vienna-Moscow route bypassing Belarusian airspace.
It is in the interests of both Austria and Russia that all flights through Russia run smoothly. We assume we will get approval for more flights, Austrian Minister of State for Aviation Magnus Brunner said in an interview with the APA.
According to FlightRadar24, an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Paris was flying over Belarus late Friday morning and was scheduled to return to the Russian capital in the early afternoon.
Referring to this information, the French Ministry of Transport called on Russia to respect the “principle of reciprocity” in its bilateral relations.
The airline said Air France passengers were “informed of the flight cancellation and offered to reschedule the Aeroflot-operated flight or refund”.
Other airlines obtained approvals from Russian aviation authorities on Thursday to change their route.
Earlier on Friday, the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said he was concerned about the escalation of the aviation dispute between Moscow and European countries.
– He stressed that these were serious air traffic disruptions and we are still not sure to what extent these were individual cases and not general actions by the Russian authorities.
Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatia) told carriers on Friday that changes to routes from Europe to Russia due to a political row over Belarus could cause check-in times to be extended due to more such requests.
– Since midnight Thursday, when the restrictions came into effect, no Belarusian airline aircraft has entered Polish airspace – said Pawes Dokaszevic, a spokesman for the State Air Navigation Services Agency.
On Wednesday, the Cabinet regulation was published in the Laws Journal, according to which, as of Thursday, there is a ban on entering Polish airspace for aircraft used by air carriers from Belarus. In accordance with Cabinet regulations, the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency issued operational information NOTAM to inform aircraft users and aviation-related bodies about the introduction from May 27 from 00:00 (from May 26 from 22. UTC) ban on entry of aircraft used by air carriers from Belarus to the Polish space. The ban does not only apply to machines involved in humanitarian operations.
A ban on flights through European Union airspace was agreed upon for Belarusian airlines and their access to the group’s airports was agreed on Monday at a summit of EU leaders.
On Sunday, a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in the Belarusian capital due to false information about the explosives on board. At the Minsk airport, the Belarusian services arrested the opposition activist, journalist and blogger Raman Pratasevich, who was traveling in a machine. The country’s authorities also admitted that it had captured the MiG-29 fighter, which was helping in the flight of the passenger machine.