EU Member states have advised national carriers to avoid flying over Belarusian airspace and banned Belarus Airlines from flying over EU airspace after Roman Protasevich’s arrest.
“The EU calls on all EU-based carriers to avoid overflight of Belarus” and will ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports of flights operated by such airlines,” said the EU Council during a recent meeting in Brussels.
The EU considered Belarus’ recent move as a hijacking incident after it scrambled a fighter jet to force the Ryan plane carrying Protasevich bound for Lithuania to land due to an alleged bomb threat.
German carrier Lufthansa and Scandinavia’s SAS were the first airlines to implement airspace rerouting as of Monday.
Air France also announced it has already halted flights over Belarus along with Ukrainian carrier UIA and Polish airline LOT.
The airspace ban is expected to cause Belarus income loss from overflight fees.
The EU added that it is requesting the release of Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega along with an investigation from the International Civil Aviation Organization on the hijacking incident.
Aside from the flight ban, the EU also mulled further economic sanctions for “persons and entities” linked to Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko but did not give further details.
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