The European Union urged its airlines to avoid Belarus and decided to close its own airspace to Belarusian carriers amid outrage over Sunday’s interception of a Ryanair RYA.I plane en route to Lithuania from Greece and by the arrest of a dissident journalist on board.
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Josep Borrell said addressing reporters: “We don’t know if this is case by case, specific cases, or if it is a general standard of the Russian authorities for European planes to fly over Belarus”.
Russia on Thursday denied clearance of an Austrian Airlines Vienna-Moscow flight plan avoiding Belarus – a day after failing to approve a revised Air France Paris-Moscow route. Both flights were canceled.
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It cleared an Austrian Airlines Vienna-Moscow flight on Friday to bypass Belarusian airspace, the TASS news agency said, citing the company, and cleared other foreign carriers on Thursday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the problems were purely technical in nature and the issue should not become an irritant in EU-Russia relations.
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Russian Federal Aviation Agency Rosaviatsiya told airlines that changes to routes between Europe and Russia due to the political row over Belarus could lead to longer customs clearance times due to ‘a greater number of requests of this type.
(With contributions from agencies)