Exclusive: Ryanair still flying over Belarus

by Callum Tennant
A Ryanair plane takes off

Ryanair is continuing to fly through Belarusian airspace, despite accusing the nation of “aviation piracy”. Data from Flightradar24 shows that a Ryanair plane spent around 40 minutes in Belarusian airspace this morning. This comes despite yesterday’s incident, when a Ryanair aircraft was forced to land in Belarus, where a journalist critical of the regime was arrested. The move was branded as hijacking by the EU Commission.

Flightradar24

A Ryanair plane was tracked using Belarusian airspace today | © Flightradar24

Ryanair undeterred

Whilst the airline group’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, told POLITICO that the incident was “a case of state-sponsored hijacking”, Ryanair did not reroute a subsequent flight this morning. Flight FR3340, flying from Paphos, Cyprus, to Tallinn, Estonia, entered Belarusian airspace at 10:07, leaving at 10:45.

Carl Bildt, Co-Chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, questioned the decision to continue flying over Belarus. Writing on Twitter he said “it’s slightly insane, but Ryanair is flying through Belarus airspace as we speak. What are they thinking?”

Multiple airlines, including Air Baltic and Wizz Air, have announced they will avoid or have begun avoiding Belarusian airspace. The UK government has also instructed airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace, with the country’s transport secretary saying that the move was needed “in order to keep passengers safe”.

A wider EU flight ban over Belarus and further sanctions against the country are expected after EU and NATO meetings later this week. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the UN’s aviation agency, said that it was “concerned by the apparent forced landing of a Ryanair flight and its passengers”. The ICAO added that the incident “could be in contravention of the Chicago Convention.

Will Ryanair divert flights passing through Belarus?

Although it doesn’t appear as if Ryanair has stopped using Belarusian airspace, possible EU and UK flight bans may force the group to reroute flights which cross Belarus. The next Ryanair flight from Paphos to Tallinn, scheduled for 27 May, may be the first indication of whether the airline now thinks that using Belarusian airspace is too dangerous.

Travel Radar has contacted Ryanair for comment. The airline was not immediately available for comment.

What do you think of Ryanair’s flights continuing to use Belarusian airspace? Let us know in the comments below.

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