Brussels (Brussels Morning) Air France and Lufthansa airlines are to start using new flight routes to Russia this week that will by-pass Belarusian airspace.
On Saturday, the two airlines announced that Moscow has approved the new flight paths which the companies had sought as EU leaders urged them to avoid Belarusian airspace, DW reported.
Earlier this month, Belarus forced the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania to land in Minsk and then arrested anti-government activist Roman Protasevich, one of the poassengers, sparking international outrage.
Air France noted on Saturday that new flight paths had been approved for the weekend. A spokesman said the company was “awaiting a green light from Russian authorities for our flights after this weekend”.
Lufthansa announced Russia had approved new flight routes from Frankfurt to St. Petersburg and Moscow for the foreseeable future.
Some EU member states have banned Belarusian airlines from entering their airspace following the Ryanair incident. Belavia, the Belarusian flag carrier, denounced the moves as despicable.
Belavia director-general Igor Tcherginets claimed the decisions amount to sanctions against the company and stressed “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”.
“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”, he declared.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation expressed concern over the Ryanair incident last week, but did not start an investigation.
Last week, Air France and Austrian Airlines, a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group, cancelled a number of flights to Russia because they had not confirmed alternative flight routes with Moscow.
Russia pointed out that new permits were not issued on time due to the high number of requests for new routes.