Russia approves Air France and Lufthansa routes bypassing Belarus | News | DW
Air France and Lufthansa said on Saturday they had received approval from Russia for flight routes to the country that avoid Belarusian airspace.
Air France, which operates one or two flights a day between Paris and Moscow, said its new flight path was put into service for this weekend on Saturday.
However, a spokesperson said the French airline was still awaiting confirmation that the new flight path could also be used from next week.
“We are awaiting the green light from the Russian authorities for our flights after this weekend,” said a spokesperson.
Ryanair flight 4978 from Athens to Vilnius was diverted to Minsk
A spokeswoman for Lufthansa said she had received approval for new routes on her flights from Frankfurt to Moscow and St. Petersburg for the foreseeable future.
Airlines scramble to agree on new flight paths after EU leaders urged airlines not to use Belarusian airspace following Ryanair plane crash landing on May 23 by the Belarusian government.
The plane was grounded under the pretext of a bomb threat and a Belarusian MiG-29 fighter escorted the passenger plane to Minsk airport where dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich was arrested.
EU leaders accused Belarus of state-backed piracy and also excluded Belarusian carriers from bloc’s airspace, prompting cries of a ‘despicable’ response from the head of the Belarusian national airline Belavia.
In a post on his Facebook page on Saturday, director Igor Tcherginets said such measures amounted to sanctions against the carrier, which he described as an innocent party in the case.
“All of this is happening before an investigation into the incident, for which there may be some culprits, but Belavia is certainly not one of them,” he added.
Belarus has faced international sanctions following the violent crackdown on the protest movement against the regime of strongman Alexander Lukashenko. His opponents say his election victory last August was fraudulent.
Several European airlines have already rerouted flights to avoid Belarusian airspace
Flights canceled due to airspace guidance
Earlier this week, Air France and Austrian Airlines had to cancel several flights to Moscow because they had yet to confirm an alternative flight path with Russia.
Moscow blamed the delay in issuing new permits on the large number of airlines requesting new routes.
Meanwhile, the International Civil Aviation Organization is considering an investigation into the forced landing amid allegations of Russian involvement.
mm / csb (Reuters, Interfax)