It’s been a difficult month for Belarusian flag carrier Belavia. The lack of access to EU airspace means that reaching its remaining destinations is proving challenging. On a recent flight to Tunisia, the airline was forced to add two hours to the usual flight time. Let’s find out more.
The long way around
To understand Belavia’s current predicament, let’s look at a recent flight from Minsk to Enfidha, Tunisia. Usually, the flight would have taken a fairly simple route over Ukraine, Romania, and several other European countries. However, the ban made this journey substantially longer. Here’s a look at the flight map.
On flight B2 9317, Belavia was forced to fly into Russian airspace, one of its few remaining allies. After flying around Ukraine for 90 minutes, the flight went south over the Black Sea. The aircraft then entered Turkish airspace, briefly flying over Istanbul on its way to Tunisia.
Interestingly, flight data shows that the Belavia flight also flew over Greece during its journey. Considering every EU state (along with UK, Switzerland, and Ukraine) has banned the airline from its airspace, it’s unclear how the airline received permission to fly in Greek airspace. Finally, after 5 hours and 45 minutes, the flight finally arrived in Enfidha.
Not the only one
The additional two hours of flight time is no small change for Belavia. The carrier must have paid thousands of dollars more for the additional fuel and crew costs. However, Tunisia won’t be the only destination affected by the EU ban.
Belavia’s routes to Turkey have also been affected by the ban, adding an extra 50% to the flight time in each direction (60 to 75 minutes). This means the airline will likely lose business to competitor Turkish Airlines, not only on direct flights but also on connections due to the added flight time.
In total, Belavia has canceled over 20 routes as a direct result of bans from the EU and other countries. This has left a huge gap in the airline’s schedule, with little choice of destinations left for the airline. The ban has angered many in Belavia, including airline chief Igor Tcherginets. According to Reuters, in a statement on Facebook, he said,
“It is evident that these governments planned not only to close their countries for landing by our airplanes, but also, with an especially fascist perversity, they are closing air corridors one by one. They are mocking us…All this is happening before an investigation of the incident, for which there may be some guilty parties, but Belavia is definitely not among them. They punish innocent Belavia, without even beginning an investigation. It’s despicable.”
While Belavia may not have been directly responsible for the forced landing of Ryanair flight FR4978, it is paying the price for the government’s illegal actions. Considering the tense political situation, it’s unlikely that these bans are going to go anytime soon.