EU bans Belarusian planes from flying over EU airspace and landing

In response to the forced diversion of Belarusian airliners to arrest dissident journalists, the EU made further countermeasures on June 4, formally banning Belarusian airlines from flying over EU airspace and landing from midnight.

Central News Agency reported that the European Council said that member states on June 4 formally approved the closure of airspace to Belarusian Airlines, but also banned the company’s flights from landing in the airports of EU member states.

A Belarusian opposition journalist was scheduled to fly from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania, on May 23 on a Ryanair flight, but Belarusian President Lukashenka sent warplanes to intercept it, forcing the plane to land in Minsk, sparking international outrage.

The European Union then proposed to close the airspace to Belarusian aviation, which was supported by more than half of the member states and implemented. The proposal was officially adopted today by the ambassadors of 27 member states to the EU.

European media quoted unnamed EU officials as saying that the ban would take effect from midnight on June 4. According to the European Air Traffic Control Organization, the ban will affect about 400 civilian flights over Belarus every day.