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Austrian Airlines cancels flight from Vienna to Moscow after Russian authorities reject flightpath bypassing Belarusian airspace

Austrian Airlines cancels flight from Vienna to Moscow after Russian authorities reject flightpath bypassing Belarusian airspace
Austrian Airlines has canceled a Thursday flight from Vienna to Moscow after the Russian authorities refused to accept the plane's new proposed route. The planned path was amended to avoid flying through Belarusian airspace.

Any change in a flight route must be approved by the authorities, and Moscow said it refused the request from Vienna.

“Austrian Airlines has suspended flights over Belarusian airspace until further notice based on the recommendation of the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA),” the airline told news agency TASS.

Many carriers from European Union nations are now actively avoiding flying through Belarusian airspace following Sunday’s grounding of a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania. The plane was forced to make an emergency stop in Belarus because of a supposed bomb threat. Once it landed at Minsk airport, police came onto the aircraft and arrested activist Roman Protasevich, a passenger on the flight. Later, when no bomb was found, the plane left Belarus for its final destination in Lithuania.

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Following the incident, described by some as “piracy” and “hijacking,” the European Union decided to prohibit Belarusian airline Belavia from flying throughout the EU and recommended that EU carriers avoid the country’s airspace.

On Wednesday, it was reported that Air France also had to cancel a flight from Paris to Moscow after Russia refused to approve the route avoiding Belarusian airspace. However, a spokesman for the airline told Reuters that it still plans to run its next scheduled Moscow flight on Friday, pending Russian approval of the new flight path.

Despite the refusals given to the proposed routes of Air France and Austrian Airlines, there doesn’t appear to be a blanket ban on flights purposely going around Belarus. For example, Polish flag carrier LOT has had a route plan from Warsaw to Moscow approved, flying instead via Lithuania and Latvia on Thursday evening.

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