*** Update 06.02.2021 19:30 UTC – Flights are now approved once more***
Germany had said that Russian airlines were unable to land in the country. The development is the latest in the saga following a Ryanair 737 forcibly diverted by Belarus on May 23rd. It comes after Russia failed to approve Lufthansa flights to Moscow.
2021 has been an interesting year for airlines. Many routes are currently not possible or running reduced services due to health-related travel restrictions. Adding to these restrictions is an ongoing tit-for-tat argument regarding airspace in the Eastern European region surrounding Belarus. Here, several airlines have been banned from different air spaces in an escalating narrative.
Russian airlines banned from Germany
The latest chapter in the Belarusian Ryanair flight diversion takes place between Russia and Germany. According to the Associated Press, Germany has now blocked Russian airlines from landing in the country. The policy change affected flights operated by SkyTeam’s Aeroflot, the national carrier of Russia, alongside oneworld-member airline S7.
According to the publication, the opposing nation approved flights between Russia and Germany every month after a bilateral agreement between the two was revoked in March 2020. Russia has been dragging its feet in approving flights from several European airlines, including Lufthansa and Air France.
Following EU advice, the carriers are routing around Belarusian airspace when flying to Moscow. Lufthansa hasn’t received approval to operate flights to Moscow, leading to cancelations at short notice. As a result, the Transport Ministry commented,
“Due to the underlying reciprocal practice, the German Federal Aviation Authority also did not issue any further permits for flights of the Russian carriers as long as the permits were pending on the Russian side.”
Later on Tuesday evening, Reuters reported that Germany and Russia had swiftly resolved the incident, with flights once again allowed to proceed between the two nations. The publication quotes a Lufthansa spokesperson as saying,
“Russian authorities have issued permission for passenger flights to Russia in June. Scheduled Lufthansa flights to Moscow and St. Petersburg can therefore proceed.”
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Why is this happening?
This tit-for-tat situation between multiple countries regarding airspace essentially revolves around a flight diversion ten days ago. Belarus forced a Ryanair 737 to divert to Minsk under the pretense of a bomb threat. On arrival, a member of the government’s opposition was arrested. Ryanair’s CEO called this aviation piracy.
In response to the incident, many airlines began avoiding Belarusian airspace for fear that they too would be targeted. As a reaction to the incident formed, multiple countries banned Belarusian flights from their own airspaces. To reach Tunisia, the national carrier Belavia has been forced to take a two-hour detour around affected airspaces.
Today, EASA issued a safety directive instructing member states to ban regular flights over the country’s airspace in response to the incident. The safety directive follows a safety information bulletin issued last week, advising carriers to avoid the area.
What do you make of Germany’s decision to withhold permission for flights from Russian airlines? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!