REUTERS

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency on June 2 issued a safety directive, calling on the National Competent Authorities in member states to instruct aircraft operators that conducting operations in Belarus airspace "is no longer allowed, unless required for safe operations in unforeseen circumstances."

The objective of Safety Directive 2021-02, which was published in consultation with the EASA Member States and the European Commission, is to reduce the potential risk to passengers and crews that could arise from operations in this airspace.

"This follows the incident involving Ryanair flight FR4978 on May 23, 2021," the statement reads.

The directive will be reviewed as circumstances require and in any case at intervals of no more than one month. 

The competent authorities are required to put the said measures in place within two days and to inform EASA of the steps taken.

Read alsoLukashenko: Belarus could launch flights to occupied CrimeaThe Safety Information Bulletin EASA released earlier contained a recommendation directly to operators, whereas the Safety Directive recommends mandatory action by the National Competent Authorities for those operators.

Background

  • Ukraine halted air traffic with Belarus from 00:00 Kyiv time on May 26, 2021. What is more, Ukrainian airlines and aircraft are not allowed to fly in Belarusian airspace.
  • On May 23, 2021, Belarus scrambled a MiG-29 fighter jet to forcedly land a Ryanair plane in Minsk. The plane was heading from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania. Co-founder of Telegram's opposition channel NEXTA, Roman Protasevich, was on board the plane.
  • The plane was diverted to Minsk at the command of Belarusian air traffic controllers over a possible bomb threat, despite the fact that the distance to Vilnius was much shorter. After the plane landed, Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend were detained. Protasevich faces the death penalty in Belarus.
  • The circumstances of the forced landing of the Ryanair airline in Minsk will be investigated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).