An Inside Look At Belavia – The Flag Carrier Of Belarus

Belavia, the flag carrier of Belarus, is in a precarious position. With various flight bans already imposed, notably to Ukraine, it must contend with an EU-wide ban coming soon. When all bans are in place, some 25 routes will end. This will come as a blow to the seven aircraft type carrier, which had almost doubled in size between 2015 and 2019.

An Inside Look At Belavia – The Flag Carrier Of Belarus
Belavia almost doubled in size between 2015-2019 because of the crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Photo: Getty Images.

The EU has started the process of banning Belarusian airlines from landing at any EU airport. Particular EU and non-EU countries banned flights quickly, namely Lithuania, France, Ukraine, and the UK. And today, May 26th, Sweden joined the list, Belavia’s website shows.

Belavia revolves around Russia and Ukraine, with over 2.4 million seats, or six in ten of its total. The most important ban on Belavia comes from Ukraine, which runs from May 25/26th until August 31st, its website indicates. This affects all five of its Ukraine routes from Minsk, which are – in normal times – vital for onward connections to Russia.

An Inside Look At Belavia – The Flag Carrier Of Belarus
Belavia’s scheduled routes from Minsk to the EU, UK, and Ukraine in the week beginning May 27th. Some routes are no longer bookable, including to Ukraine and the UK, while all will end when the EU’s ban comes into force. Image: GCMap.

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25 routes planned to the EU, UK, and Ukraine

Belavia had planned to operate 25 routes from Minsk to the EU, UK, and Ukraine, as shown below and in the map above, based on analyzing data supplied by the airline to OAG. Some 119 departures were due to be operated. Now, 16 routes are bookable with 51 departures, 57% fewer than expected. Clearly, this will reduce to zero when the EU ban is implemented.

Belavia from Minsk to…Expected weekly departures (week beginning May 27th, 2021)Currently bookable
Kyiv Boryspil140
Vilnius140
Warsaw93
Amsterdam77
Kyiv Zhuliany70
Lviv70
Odesa60
Stockholm Arlanda40
Paris CDG40
Rome Fiumicino44
Helsinki44
Larnaca44
Tallinn44
Berlin33
Frankfurt33
Kharkiv30
London Gatwick30
Milan Malpensa33
Prague33
Riga33
Barcelona22
Budapest22
Brussels Charleroi22
Munich22
Vienna22

Belavia almost doubled in size in a few years

Belavia almost doubled in size between 2015 (2.19 million seats) and 2019 (4.18 million), a significant development for a small and niche airline. This was from non-EU capacity more than doubling, as shown in the following figure.

 

An Inside Look At Belavia – The Flag Carrier Of Belarus
Non-EU capacity more than doubled (+106%) between 2015-2019. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer.

Why did it grow so much?

Belavia’s big growth was the result of geopolitics. It was all about Ukraine (capacity up by 358%) and Russia (+91%) because of the conflict between those countries, which meant no non-stops could be operated. This changed Belavia’s role to providing vital links between them over Minsk.

While the EU is a much smaller part of Belavia’s network, EU capacity also grew well in itself between 2015-2019 (+55%), passing the one million seat mark in 2019. Still, Belavia added 200,000 fewer seats to all EU destinations than to Ukraine.

An Inside Look At Belavia – The Flag Carrier Of Belarus
Belavia still uses classic 737s: the -300, as shown here, and the -500. They’re especially well used to Moscow. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia.

30 aircraft and a big regional focus

The normal passenger division of Belavia has 30 aircraft, ch-aviation.com shows, of which 26 are active. It received its first Boeing 737 MAX 8 this year, just a short time after receiving its second Embraer 195-E2.

  • B737-800s: nine active, none inactive
  • E195LR: six active, one inactive
  • E175LR: four active, one inactive
  • B737-300s: three active, none inactive
  • B737-500s: two active, none inactive
  • E195-E2: two active, one inactive
  • B737 MAX 8: none active, one inactive
An Inside Look At Belavia – The Flag Carrier Of Belarus
This photo commemorates the delivery of its second E195E2. Photo: AerCap.

Regional jets comprise half of its fleet and play a crucial role. Some 48 routes were scheduled to see them this year, with the E2 also used on the 2,424-mile sector to Dubai. This is the carrier’s longest route, which has an outbound block time of five hours and 40 minutes.

Have you flown Belavia? Let us know in the comments.

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