Airlines KLM decided to suspend flights over Belarus. This was the result of the intervention of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Root, before the carrier saw there was no reason to do so. Many airlines have taken such a step. Eurocontrol, in turn, helps airlines avoid Belarus.
“KLM has noted Prime Minister Rutte’s call to suspend air operations over Belarus,” the KLM said in a statement. As indicated, the decision will also apply to code-share flights to Minsk operated by the Belarusian airline Belavia. Code sharing means cooperation between airlines which consists in the carriage by one airline for passengers holding tickets issued by another airline.
KLM airlines announced earlier on Monday that they will continue to fly over Belarusian territory. A Dutch airline spokesman said at the time that after consulting with the government, he saw no reason to suspend flights. However, Prime Minister Mark Rutte called on KLM in the afternoon to suspend flights. Royal Dutch Airlines fly from Amsterdam to Russia or destinations in the Far East. KLM also flew to Minsk six times a week. Three times in partnership with Belarusian Belavia and three times a week via Paris in partnership with Air France. The KLM is also flying over Belarus on its way to Asia.
LOT Polish Airlines is preparing for alternative scenarios for Communications taking place over the territory of BelarusWizz Air and Air Baltic decided to bypass the Belarusian air zone.
The German airline Lufthansa announced a “suspension of operations” in Belarusian airspace. “Due to the dynamics of the current situation, we are suspending operations in the Belarusian airspace,” the company said in a statement.
Earlier on Monday, a Lufthansa plane, which was scheduled to fly from Minsk to Frankfurt, was temporarily suspended in the Belarusian capital after the airport reported that it had received an email saying it “intends to commit an act of terrorism”. After checking the plane, luggage and passengers, the alarm was canceled and the plane left with a delay.
FlightRadar also indicated that an Austrian Airlines plane was being re-routed from Vienna to Moscow.
Flights over Belarus – organizers’ reactions
Eurocontrol said on Monday it is working with airlines and air navigation services in the countries neighboring Belarus to ensure that airlines can avoid Belarusian airspace if they wish.
Eurocontrol told Reuters that three European airlines – Germany’s Lufthansa, Lotte Bolshevik and Latvia AirBaltec – operate 14 flights a week to Belarus.
“Due to the closure of the eastern part of Ukrainian airspace, many European Union airlines are using Belarusian airspace on their flights to Asia,” the organization said.
Eurocontrol also announced that it expects 64 flights on Monday that will be operated by the Belarusian airline Belavia in the airspace of the countries belonging to the organization.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) wrote in a statement on Twitter: “The closure of airspace and the authorization of an emergency landing were not the responsibility of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) secretariat under the Chicago Convention (International Civil Aviation).”
Immediately after the accident, the International Civil Aviation Organization concluded that it might be in contravention of the International Civil Aviation Agreement, Russia’s TASS agency notes. “The International Civil Aviation Organization is extremely concerned about the possibility of the Ryanair plane and its passengers being forcibly landed, which may constitute a violation of the Chicago Convention. We look forward to receiving more information, which will be officially confirmed by the countries concerned and the operators,” the International Civil Aviation Organization wrote. On Twitter on Sunday.
It is expected that 36 representatives of the ICAO Council will meet in an extraordinary meeting on 27 May to discuss the situation.
The Swedish Transport Agency called on airlines to avoid skies over Belarus. In a press release, the office urged to “take into account the precarious situation.” “The decision is in effect until the problem stabilizes. We are closely following developments,” said Simon Bosloc of the Swedish Transport Agency. According to Posluk, it is “difficult to say” to what extent the recommendation will affect airlines.
Swedish SAS airlines operate across Belarusian territory, among other things twice-weekly connections between the capital of Norway, Oslo and the capital of Ukraine, Kiev.
In the statement it issued, the Civil Aviation Authority said the office received information from Ryanair on Sunday about the unplanned landing of its aircraft with SP-RSM numbers in Minsk, Belarus.
“Since then, the office has been in constant contact with the air carrier and state services to find out the circumstances of the accident, and we are currently awaiting the report of the carrier that will allow us to assess the violations that occurred during this flight. Final and official” – indicated in the statement.
The office added that after the plane landed in Vilnius, the Lithuanian police, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office in Poland began investigations. “Subject to compliance with the procedures and taking into account the interest of the procedures that were performed, the Civil Aviation Authority will not formulate conclusions or assessments in this regard” – it was noted.
Reaction of the Lithuanian and Ukrainian authorities
The Lithuanian Sim will discuss the sanctions plan imposed on Belarus, which aims, inter alia, to: Make Belarus a no-fly zone, as reported after a closed session of Parliamentary Committees for Foreign Affairs and National Security.
– This includes the inclusion of BelAvia (Belarusian Airlines – Editor) in the sanctions package to isolate them in the West – said the head of the Parliamentary National Security and Defense Committee, Representative Laurinas Kascziunas.
On the other hand, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, directed the government to draft a decision to suspend direct flights between Ukraine and Belarus. This has to do with forcing Ryanair to land in Minsk.
The president’s office said that a meeting was held, chaired by the head of state, during which the events surrounding the Ryanair passenger plane, which had to land in Minsk on Sunday, were analyzed. “Taking into account the situation, the President instructed the government to prepare a decision to suspend direct flights between Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus and close the airspace of Belarus for flights from Ukraine and our country,” – reads the press release of the office.
An emergency landing in Minsk
On Sunday, under the pretext of a bomb threat, Belarus forced a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius to land at Minsk Airport. At that time, the opposition activist Raman Pratasevic, who was on board, was arrested. One of the authors of the next channel on the opposition Telegram, whose actions were considered extremist by the authorities, was wanted by law enforcement agencies in Belarus under an arrest warrant.
Belarus’s actions have been widely condemned in the international arena. President Andrzej Duda assessed them as “another example of a violation of the basic principles of international law,” while Prime Minister Matthews Murawiecki spoke of an “unprecedented act of state terrorism.” Regarding the situation, Alexander Chesnovsky was summoned to the Foreign Ministry immediately.
According to the Belarusian opposition, the Sunday incident is a provocation to the intelligence services with the aim of arresting Raman Pratasevic. Such a view was expressed, among other things, by Sutlan Chechenowska, a candidate in the presidential election, who was in exile.
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