Moscow refuses to allow European flights bypassing Belarus to enter Russia’s airspace
The Russian authorities seem to have come up with a response to air blockade of Belarus, which was introduced by the European Union after Lukashenko’s special operation to force the landing of the Ryanair flight in Minsk.
On Wednesday, Air France, Europe’s third-largest airline by passenger traffic, was forced to reschedule an evening Paris-Moscow flight because it did not get a permission to enter Russian airspace.
The airline planned to fly around Belarus and requested permission to enter the Russian airspace at a new location, but the usual routine procedure ended with an unexpected result. Russia did not agree to the new route, and the airline postponed the flight until May 27.
But, on Thursday, it was still not possible to obtain permission to enter the Russian airspace on the new route, RIA Novosti reports, citing Air France. As a result, the airline decided to cancel the flight again.
Austrian Airlines also could not to fly on the Vienna-Moscow route. The plane was supposed to land at 13.45 Moscow time in Domodedovo, but it is listed as “cancelled” on the airport scoreboard, Echo of Moscow reports.
TASS reported, citing Austrian Airlines, that the flight was cancelled for the same reason.
Interfax reports, citing its sources, that Moscow still does not consider these flights as regular, but “cargo-passenger”, because passenger flights have been suspended due to the pandemic. This means that the route for each such flight is agreed upon individually.
Russian Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on the situation with the cancellation of flights bypassing Belarus.
“The president’s administration does not control aviation traffic,” he said, and recommended “addressing the issue to aviation authorities.”
On Monday , the European Union advised its airlines not to fly over the territory of Belarus, after Minsk diverted the Ryanair flight to arrest the founder of NEXTA, Roman Protasevich.
More than 12 airlines, including KLM, Lufthansa, Air France and British Airways, have refused to fly over Belarus.