Exclusion of Belarusian airlines from EU airspace

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Ambassadors of European Union member states approve plan to ban Belarusian airlines from flying over airspace of the Union or landing at its airports, became known by diplomatic sources in Brussels.

The decision will take effect from midnight (Central European Time, 01.00 Greek time), limiting until 14.00 ESC any projection of objections from EU countries, which is not expected, clarified one source.

The ruling is part of a wider package of sanctions against Belarus in response to the Ryanair plane being forced to land in Minsk to arrest a pro-government journalist on board.

Airlines such as Lufthansa, SAS, Air France, LOT, Finnair and airBaltic have already announced that they will stop using Belarus airspace.

Belarusian airline Belavia flies to 20 European airports, including Helsinki, Amsterdam, Milan, Warsaw, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Rome and Vienna.

Oversight of the ban rests with the governments of EU countries, many of which are members of NATO, which can deploy warplanes to protect their airspace from unwanted aircraft.

At the same time, the EU strongly recommends that European airlines avoid flying over Belarus, but that does not amount to a legally binding ban.

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