Lufthansa suspends operations in Belarus – Simple Flying
** Update: 05/25/21 2:30 p.m. UTC – Lufthansa spokesperson now confirms services to Minsk have been canceled.**
The fallout has continued since Sunday’s incident involving Ryanair flight 4978 when Belarusian authorities forced the plane to divert to Minsk in order to arrest a dissident journalist on the pretext of a bomb threat. On Tuesday, May 24, Lufthansa announced that it was suspending operations in Belarusian airspace in response to the incident.
No flights over Belarusian airspace
In a Twitter post by the AFP News Agency, Lufthansa has announced that it will suspend operations in Belarusian airspace. Little additional information has been provided on what this entails.
However, we would assume that this would most obviously include Lufthansa’s narrow-body service between Frankfurt and Minsk, as well as air operations over the country.
Already we are seeing Lufthansa flights circling the country, with LH1452 from Frankfurt to Moscow flying over Lithuania and Latvia, rather than its normal route over Belarus.
Oddly, however, it appears that Lufthansa flights to Minsk still appear on the airline’s website, which is available for booking. At the time of publication, flights on May 26, 28, 29 and following are still results on the airline’s flight reservation system.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for Lufthansa made the following statement:
Lufthansa cancels flight (FRA-MSQ, with 96 guests) on May 26 and return flight LH1489 (MSQ-FRA with 69 guests) on May 27. Until further notice, Lufthansa does not fly in Belarusian airspace. We are monitoring the situation and are in constant contact with our authorities.
Passengers will be informed. We regret any inconvenience this may cause, but safety is always Lufthansa’s top priority.
A previous update said the airline would continue its May 26 flight.
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Lufthansa joins others in 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 plane was flying from Athens (Greece) to Vilnius (Lithuania) and over Belarus airspace.
After the plane landed in Minsk, Roman Protasevich, a journalist known to have criticized the Belarusian government, was arrested. The theft was then allowed to resume its course with reports that 121 people reached Vilnius out of the 126 behind the theft.
International condemnation followed the incident. Since then, the following actions have taken place:
Lufthansa’s own security threat
News of Lufthansa’s reaction, in the aftermath of the Ryanair incident, comes just hours after one of its own aircraft was at the center of a security threat in Minsk.
According to Reuters, Authorities in Minsk, triggered by a security alert, unloaded luggage and cargo from flight LH1487, bound for Frankfurt. Security personnel carried out further security checks on 56 people on board, which also included the five flight crew members.
“The message regarding the terrorist attack, which was received earlier by email from the airport, has not been confirmed,” an airport spokesperson told Reuters. The A319 left Minsk two hours late.
What is your reaction to the suspension of Lufthansa in Belarus? Should other airlines do the same? Let us know in the comments.