SIA reroutes Europe flights to avoid Belarus airspace following forced Ryanair landing

The move comes after the Belarusian authorities forced a commercial flight heading for Lithuania to land in Minsk.
The move comes after the Belarusian authorities forced a commercial flight heading for Lithuania to land in Minsk.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Singapore Airlines (SIA) is rerouting its Europe-bound flights to avoid Belarusian airspace.

The move comes after the Belarusian authorities forced a commercial flight heading for Lithuania to land in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on Sunday (May 23).

A key opposition journalist, Mr Roman Protasevich, who was aboard the flight was arrested after the Ryanair plane landed in the capital.

On Tuesday, SIA said: "The safety of our customers and crew is our top priority.

"We are currently rerouting our flights that are bound for Europe to avoid the Belarusian airspace, and we will continue to closely monitor the situation."

Some other airlines, such as Air France, Lufthansa and SAS, have adopted a similar measure amid international outrage and concern over Belarus' move to force the Ryanair plane to land.

Belarus state news agency BelTA said the Ryanair plane had almost reached Lithuania when it changed direction and was escorted to Minsk amid reports that it had explosives on board. But none were found after the plane landed.

The European Union on Monday called on airlines based within the bloc to stop flying over Belarus. It also started the process of banning Belarusian airlines from flying over EU airspace and landing in airports in the bloc.

Belarus airspace has been described as a key corridor between western Europe and Moscow as well as for long-haul flights between western Europe and Asia.