The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has criticised a blanket prohibition by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on European aircraft entering Belarus airspace. It has called on EASA to maintain the “critical separation” between politics and aviation safety.
The call followed the development of events after the incident when Ryanair FR4978 from Athens to Vilnius was intercepted over Belarus Airspace on 23 May and forced to land in Minsk.
On 2 June EASA replaced its recommendation (Safety Information Bulletin) for European airlines to carefully assess the risk of flying in Belarus airspace with a blanket prohibition (Safety Directive) on European aircraft entering Belarus airspace.
In a statement, IATA condemned the actions of the Belarus government and called for an independent investigation.
But it also took issue with EASA’s directives. Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, said: “Banning European aircraft from using Belarusian airspace with a Safety Directive is also a politicisation of aviation safety. This is a retrograde and disappointing development. EASA should rescind its prohibition and allow airlines to manage safety as they do each and every day—with their normal operational risk assessments.
“Two wrongs do not make a right. Politics should never interfere with the safe operation of aircraft and politicians should never use aviation safety as a cover to pursue political or diplomatic agendas.”
Several airlines have continued to use Belarusian airspace. IATA supports their decision to do so.