Russia on May 27 blocked at least two European airliners from landing in Moscow because they planned to avoid Belarusian airspace.
EU leaders asked European carriers to avoid Belarusian airspace this week after a Ryanair plane was forced to divert and land in Minsk on May 23.
On May 23 Ryanair Flight 4978 was travelling from Athens to Vilnius in Lithuania when it was forcibly diverted to Minsk. Mr Protasevich, 26, who lives in exile in Lithuania, and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega, 23, an international law student both were arrested.
European leaders reacted quickly to what they called a brazen “hijacking” of the commercial airliner, banning Belarus’ state carrier Belavia from EU airspace and telling international airlines to avoid flying over Belarus.
“Based on a recommendation by the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Austrian Airlines has suspended flights through Belarusian airspace until further notice,” spokeswoman Yvonne Wachholder wrote in an email.
“For this reason, adjustments to the flight route from Vienna to Moscow are necessary. A change in flight routes must be approved by the authorities. The Russian authorities did not give us this permit. As a result, Austrian Airlines had to cancel today’s flight from Vienna to Moscow”, she added.
President Vladimir Putin has been a valuable ally to Lukashenko, often referred to as “Europe’s last dictator.” President Vladimir Putin is ramping up protection of the former Soviet state following its arrest of Journalist.