The fallout continues from Sunday’s incident involving Ryanair flight 4978 when Belarusian authorities forced the aircraft to divert to Minsk in order to arrest a dissident journalist under the pretenses of a bomb alert. On Tuesday, May 24th, Lufthansa announced it was suspending its operations in Belarusian airspace as a response to the incident.
No flights over Belarusian airspace
In a post to Twitter by the AFP News Agency, Lufthansa has said that it will suspend operations in Belarusian airspace. Little additional information has been provided on what this entails.
However, we would presume that this would most obviously include Lufthansa’s narrowbody service between Frankfurt and Minsk, as well as airline operations overflying the country.
Already, we are seeing Lufthansa flights skirt the country, with LH1452 from Frankfurt to Moscow overflying Lithuania and Latvia, rather than its normal routing over Belarus.
Strangely, however, it appears that Lufthansa flights to Minsk still appear on the airline’s website, available for booking. At the time of publication, flights on May 26th, 28th, 29th, and onward are still results on the airline’s flight reservation system.
Simple Flying attempted to contact Lufthansa regarding the situation but did not receive a response at the time of publication.
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Lufthansa joins others condemning Belarusian actions
News of the suspension comes shortly after Belarusian security forces escorted a Ryanair 737 to Minsk, citing reports of a bomb threat. The aircraft was flying from Athens (Greece) to Vilnius (Lithuania) and was overflying Belarusian airspace.
Following the aircraft’s landing in Minsk, Roman Protasevitch, a journalist known for being critical of the Belarusian government, was arrested. The flight, with all other passengers, was then allowed to resume course.
International condemnation has followed the incident. Since then, the following actions have taken place:
Lufthansa’s own security threat
News of Lufthansa’s reaction, while a day after the Ryanair incident, comes just hours after one of its own aircraft was the center of a security threat in Minsk.
According to Reuters, Minsk authorities, prompted by a security alert, unloaded luggage and freight from flight LH1487, which was destined for Frankfurt. Security personnel carried out renewed security checks on 56 people onboard, which also included the flight’s five crew members.
“The message about the terrorist attack, which was received earlier by e-mail of the airport, was not confirmed,” an airport spokesperson said to Reuters. The A319 departed Minsk two hours late.
What’s your reaction to Lufthansa’s Belarus suspension? Should other airlines do the same? Let us know in the comments.