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European Union officially closes its airspace to Belarusian airlines

European Union officially closes its airspace to Belarusian airlines
European Union officially closes its airspace to Belarusian airlines
Written by Harry Johnson

European Council today decided to strengthen the existing restrictive measures in view of the situation in Belarus by introducing a ban on the overflight of EU airspace and on access to EU airports by Belarusian carriers of all kinds.

  • European Council announces blanket ban on Belarusian airlines
  • EU members will be required to deny permission to land in, take off from or overfly their territories to any aircraft operated by Belarusian air carriers
  • EU ban comes in the wake of Ryanair flight hijacking

European Union member states have officially imposed a blanket ban on all Belarusian air carriers from entering EU airspace. The complete ban comes in the wake of exiled opposition activist Roman Protasevich’s arrest by Belarus’ regime henchmen after a Ryanair flights carrying him was hijacked and forced to land in Minsk on May 23.

The European Council announced a blanket ban decision today, following consultations between top EU diplomats.

European Union member countries will “be required to deny permission to land in, take off from or overfly their territories to any aircraft operated by Belarusian air carriers.” 

The ban also affects operators which sell seats on planes operated by another airline, and will come into force at midnight (22:00 GMT), the same day.

The all-European ban comes two days after the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) upgraded its ‘recommendation’ that carriers from the bloc avoid Belarus into a full-blown ban. The EASA issued a “Safety Directive” saying that no EU airlines should enter Belarusian airspace except in an emergency.

The May 23 Ryanair plane hijacking has sent ongoing shockwaves through the international air travel industry. The aircraft, en route from Greece to Lithuania, was hijacked and forced to land in Minsk over a bogus bomb threat. Needless to say, no bomb was found on board, while the origins and timing of the ‘warning message’ clearly point at the ‘special operation’ conducted by Belarus KGB.

Immediately upon forced landing at Minsk airport, Belarusian security agents boarded the plane and arrested Protasevich wanted by Lukashenko’s regime and his girlfriend, Russian citizen Sofia Sapega.