IATA Isn’t Happy With EASA’s Belarus Overflight Ban

The International Air Transport Association, or IATA, has come out against the EASA’s ban on overflying Belarus. The body has raised objections to the politicization of aviation safety, a question each country and airline should handle on their own, it believes. Let’s find out more about IATA’s response to the EU’s ban.

IATA Isn’t Happy With EASA’s Belarus Overflight Ban
The EU has banned Belarusian carriers from its airspace and called on airlines to avoid overflying Belarus. Photo: Belavia


IATA has come out against the EASA’s (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) ban on overflying Belarus. In a statement to WTVB, the organization’s new boss and former IAG CEO, Willie Walsh, strongly condemned the EU’s move last month.

The basis of IATA’s criticism is not support for Belarus’ actions, but rather raising issues with the politicization of aviation safety. With EASA issuing a safety warning due to the forced landing, it opens the door to further political action in the future, setting a dangerous precedent for the industry.

Willie Walsh took over as IATA Direct General on April 1st and is now facing a major challenge to global aviation safety. Photo: IATA

IATA has condemned Belarus’ forced landing of Ryanair flight FR4978 and is now responding to the EU’s subsequent sanctions. In a statement, Walsh said,

“This is a retrograde and disappointing development.EASA should rescind its prohibition and allow airlines to manage safety as they do each and every day…Banning European aircraft from using Belarusian air space with a safety directive is also a politicisation of aviation safety. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Not the only one

While countries and airlines across the world are backing the EU’s decision to restrict flights and overflight rights from Belarus, there have been some holdouts. Qatar Airways continues to fly over Belarus on all of its European cargo and passenger routes, a move IATA is supporting.

Wizz Air CEO Jozef Varadi has also spoken out against the EU’s sanctions, saying that such decisions could make aviation safety a “a toy of politics.” He added that the passengers on Ryanair flight FR4978 were never endangered. This is obviously barring journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner.

Ryanair Boeing 737-8AS
The EU has responded strongly to Belarus’ actions, calling the incident a hijacking and sanctioning airlines. Photo: Getty Images

However, the EU has been clear in its motives: Belarus must be punished for its illegal actions. The decision to force the Ryanair flight to land sets a chilling precedent for passenger safety, with overflight rights being equated to permission to arrest those onboard. For now, don’t expect the EU to back down from its stance anytime soon.

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Airlines working around

While the Ryanair incident has sparked furious political debate, Belarusian carriers are finding ways around the ban. Flag carrier Belavia has been flying through Russia and Turkey to reach its remaining destinations, adding substantial flight time. Meanwhile, Russia has responded to the EU’s actions by barring some European carriers from flying into the country if they avoid Belarusian airspace.

While aviation safety should remain above the political fray, nowadays, it is in the dead center.

What do you think about IATA’s response to the EU’s sanctions? Let us know in the comments!