On Monday, the German airline Lufthansa announced that its planes are avoiding Belarusian airspace until further notice due to “the current dynamic situation”.
KLM announced earlier on Monday evening that it would do the same and would also stop the so-called code share flights to Minsk, the capital of the Eastern European country.
Lufthansa’s decision comes after the European Union called on all airlines in the EU to stop flying over Belarus. The EU is further closing its airspace to Belarusian airlines, leaders of the 27 EU member states agreed on Monday evening. These airlines are also no longer allowed to land at airports in the EU.
The punitive measures taken by the EU for the forced landing of a Ryanair plane in Minsk on Sunday with a dissident and his girlfriend on board will take effect as soon as possible. The dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega have been arrested.
The responsible ministers must arrange the flight ban for Belarusian airlines; Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his 26 colleagues have agreed. It is unclear how long that will take. The call to European airlines affects more quickly, even if it is up to them to ignore Belarusian airspace.
On Monday, Minsk airport suspended boarding on a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, and the plane was searched. The immediate cause, according to the Belarusian authorities, was a received warning about a possible terrorist act. After a delay of 2.5 hours, the aircraft was able to leave.