More Airlines Suspend Flights Going Through Belarus Airspace

Air France, KLM and Finnair said they would suspend flights going through the country’s airspace.

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European airlines respond to the forced landing of a commercial flight in Belarus.

A Ryanair jet, which was diverted to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, leading airlines to suspend flights through Belarus airspace.Credit…Andrius Sytas/Reuters

May 25, 2021, 10:01 a.m. ET

More airlines responded on Tuesday to the brazen decision over the weekend by Belarus’s president to force a commercial flight to land in an effort to arrest a dissident journalist.

Fallout was swift as the country’s strongman president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, drew reprimands and flight bans from countries and airlines around the world.

The European Union on Monday called on airlines based in the bloc to stop flying over Belarus as it also worked to ban the country’s airlines from flying over E.U. airspace. Britain imposed similar restrictions, while several major airlines said they would stop traversing the country altogether, effectively severing Belarus’s direct air connections to Western Europe.

Here’s the latest response from airlines on Tuesday:

Air France and KLM later said they too would suspend flights going through Belarus airspace, Reuters reported.

Finnair said it would do the same. “The change will make flight time a bit longer,” the Finnish national carrier said on Twitter.

“Due to the current dynamic situation, we are suspending the operation in Belarusian airspace for the time being,” Tal Muscal, a spokesman for Lufthansa, said Monday in a statement.

The German airline was joined by Austrian Airlines in stopping flights over Belarus.

Though not a major European hub, Belarus’s capital, Minsk, is served by several international airlines, including Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Turkish Airlines. U.S. airlines like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines offer flights to Minsk through partnerships with European carriers and Belavia, the Belarusian airline.

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