EU to ban Belarus carriers from midnight as opposition urges G7 sanctions

  • 1 year ago
EU to ban Belarus carriers from midnight as opposition urges G7 sanctions

REUTERS

Belarus carriers will be banned from flying over European Union territory or having access to its airports from Friday, the bloc said, as the country's exiled opposition leader called for more joint Western sanctions.

The EU decision is part of planned punitive measures against Belarus in response to Minsk scrambling a warplane to force the landing on May 23 of a Ryanair flight carrying an opposition journalist, who was then arrested. 

The move is due to take effect at midnight Central European Time (2200 GMT), and requires EU member states "to deny permission to land in, take off from or overfly their territories to any aircraft operated by Belarusian air carriers," EU governments said in a statement.

The ban also includes marketing carriers, which sell seats on planes operated by another airline as part of a code-share agreement.

On Wednesday, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a safety directive saying all EU aircraft should also avoid Belarus air space unless in an emergency.

 

Global airline industry body IATA criticised the decision, which will make flights to Asia longer and more costly. 

However, the EU and NATO believe the forced landing of the flight from Athens to Vilnius to arrest journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend amounted to state piracy and must not be tolerated.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said Protasevich was plotting a rebellion, and accused the West of waging a hybrid war against him.

National carrier Belavia flies to some 20 airports in Europe including in Germany, France, Italy and Austria.

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