European airlines are taking steps to avoid Belarusian airspace

Belarusians are demonstrating in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, to demand the release of the journalist detained on the plane. (Photo: Agence France-Presse)

The EU recommendation to avoid flying over Belarusian airspace is another complication for airlines, even if they are accustomed to such difficulties.

What is the position of the states and airlines?

The European Union “recommended” airlines belonging to the bloc to avoid Belarusian airspace to punish the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko, accused of forcing a plane to land in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to arrest an opponent who was traveling.

The European Union also announced the closure of European airspace to aircraft coming from Belarus, as did the United Kingdom and Ukraine.

European companies Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair and SAS have indicated that they have suspended flights over Belarus. Singapore Airlines and Japan’s ANA did so.

What are the corporate consequences?

Before the pandemic, more than 2,500 commercial flights per week were flying over Belarusian airspace, according to Eurocontrol (European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation).

The website stated that the planes that flew over Belarus returned this afternoon, Tuesday, on the fingers of the hand Flight Radar 24.

For flights between Europe and Asia, avoiding the skies over Belarus is an insurmountable complication, adding to the flight restrictions for part of Ukrainian airspace due to the conflict between Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists.

“This will increase the flight time. It is more fuel, more hours of maintenance,” a long-distance pilot told AFP, but the situation in the area had not deteriorated to the point that there were no alternative routes. To reveal his identity.

“Avoiding the airspace of a rather large country located in central Europe is very expensive for any airline,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

For shorter routes, the situation will be more difficult, as in the case of the low-cost Hungarian Wizz Air flight between Kiev and Vilnius, which lasted 1 hour and 32 minutes this Tuesday versus 57 minutes the previous Thursday, according to FlightRadar24, indicating a major reversal. Across Polish airspace.

About a fifth of the 2,500 weekly flights over Belarusian space correspond to the national carrier Belavia, which has a fleet of 30 aircraft, including the Embraer-175 with less than a hundred seats for regional flights or the Boeing 737 single-aisle 900 for medium-haul routes.

On Monday, Belavia made twenty flights with take-off or landing at European Union airports. Between 40 and 60 flights, the airline has routes that include European countries. These flights will be suspended or have to change flight plans.

The decision will also affect Belarusian finances, which will no longer be charged companies flying fees.

As startling as it may be, especially in the context of a coordinated response by states, the avoidance of airspace, whether for security or political reasons, is not exceptional.

For nearly four years, Qatar Airways had to bypass the Arabian Peninsula to reach Europe and America due to the boycott imposed by Saudi Arabia.

Its aircraft were able to resume the Luxor route in early January.

In recent weeks, Palestinian rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into the Tel Aviv area prompted the Israeli authorities to divert planes to the south of the country.

The airspace of Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, where armed conflicts are raging, forces commercial aircraft to change flight plans.

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