Belavia’s Embraer E195LR aircraft bearing the special “World of Tanks” livery spent two and a half hours in the air today flying nowhere. The flight departed from and returned to Minsk, the Belarusian capital, because it was not allowed to enter the Polish airspace.
A flight to nowhere
Today, Wednesday 26th May, Belavia’s flight B2869 from Minsk to Barcelona flew several loops over Belarus in a holding pattern because it was not allowed to enter the airspace of Poland.
The aircraft involved is Belavia’s Embraer E195LR plane carrying the special “World of Tanks” livery and registered as EW-400PO.
Belavia’s aircraft are currently still allowed to fly to Poland, but this particular aircraft did not enter the Polish airspace because it would have subsequently not been able to enter the French airspace, which it needs to do en route from Belarus to Spain.
Reuters reports the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency spokesman, Pawel Lukasiewicz, as saying:
“This pilot received information from us that the French airspace was blocked … and he may have a problem with entering.”
So what happened?
A German journalist, Lars Wienand, reported on Twitter that the French aviation authorities had deactivated Belavia’s permit to operate this flight over France just three minutes before the flight was due to take off.
Wienand also posted what appears to be a statement by Belavia that is no longer available, which had said that there were 54 passengers onboard this flight to nowhere.
The statement had also explained that Belavia was not notified of this “deactivation”, which is also why the aircraft took off from Minsk on time and as scheduled. The pilots were notified of this change only once they were in flight. The information came to them from the Polish airspace.
— Lars Wienand (@LarsWienand) May 26, 2021
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Airlines are avoiding Belarus
More and more airlines and flights are affected by the ongoing international condemnation of Belarus following the incident with the forced landing of a Ryanair aircraft en route from Athens to Vilnius.
IATA has strongly condemned Belarus’ actions and is demanding a full investigation. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority has suspended Belavia’s operating permit and has requested airlines to avoid flying through the Belarusian airspace. airBaltic has announced that it will avoid entering Belarusian airspace. Lufthansa has suspended all flights to Belarus.
Lufthansa, too, has had an issue on one of its flights out of Belarus this week.
A day after the Ryanair incident, Belarusian security personnel delayed the take-off of a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt to carry out renewed security checks of 56 people onboard, including the flight’s five crew members. Lufthansa’s A319 eventually departed Minsk with a two-hour delay.
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