A day after the EU actually declared a boycott of Belarusian civil aviation, European and American cargo airlines, as well as passenger liners from Russia, Turkey and China, continue to fly in the skies of Belarus. The ban on Belavia’s flights to the EU is also not being fully observed – for example, Germany has not yet introduced it. According to experts, at least cargo aircraft and business jets will continue to use the Belarusian airspace.
The decision of the EU countries to close their airports and airspace from Belavia, as well as to recommend European airlines to avoid flights over Belarus, indeed reduced the number of transit flights, but did not nullify them. On Tuesday, according to FlightRadar24 data, it was possible to record a thinning, but almost continuous flow of aircraft. Among them stood out, in particular, cargo carriers: the Russian AirBridgeCargo and Atran, the German aircraft Lufthansa Cargo, returning from Seoul to Frankfurt, and the aircraft of the American companies UPS Airlines and FedEx, heading from Cologne to Tokyo and from Paris to Guangzhou. Belavia continued to operate flights, making flights, in particular, to Hurghada, Istanbul, Tunisia and even Berlin. Turkish Airlines and Chinese China Eastern Airlines and Tianjin Airlines, as well as Russian airlines, continued to fly over Belarus.
At the same time, the largest European and some Asian carriers heeded the recommendations of the EU authorities and refused to fly over Belarus. Spanish Iberia and Japanese All Nippon Airways, Austrian Airlines, Air France, Finnair have added to the list over the past day. Earlier, similar statements were made by Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, Latvian AirBaltic, Hungarian Wizz Air, Polish LOT, as well as a small Lithuanian charter carrier KlasJet. Since midnight on May 26, Ukraine will stop flying to Belarus.
Obviously, after the decision of the EU summit, the number of aircraft in the airspace of Belarus has become noticeably smaller, says Roman Gusarov, editor-in-chief of the Avia.ru portal. At the same time, he stressed that messages in popular Telegram channels about the “empty skies over Belarus” cannot be considered correct based on screenshots of the FlightRadar24 aircraft tracking portal:
«It is not yet possible to estimate the drop in traffic by eye. If you look at the Belarusian sky even before the pandemic, it has never been densely filled. “
“It is unlikely that now the European countries have taken a consolidated tough position: only France, Great Britain and Lithuania have actually introduced a flight ban. The rest took a wait-and-see attitude – Germany is especially prominent, which continues to receive Belavia, despite the indignant statements of Angela Merkel. It is clear that there will be several neighboring “irreconcilable” countries that will pave the way to fly to their own detriment. The rest will probably gradually return to regular flights, ”Roman Gusarov suggests. Until then, the expert notes, passenger planes and cargo carriers from Russia, the USA and China will remain the most visible in the Belarusian sky.
The frequency of flights of business jets is unlikely to change, since changing established routes is too expensive, says Aleksey Butrimov, CEO of the private aviation company Bjet. “Our operator has two aircraft flying from France to Russia in the normal mode, without any conditions or warnings. Today, the time of a charter flight over the Belarusian airspace, for example, on the Global 6000 for 13 seats, from France to Moscow will be an hour. Accordingly, the cost of the flight will increase by $ 7.5-10 thousand. No air carrier wants to take such expenses on itself, therefore, while there is no direct ban, everyone continues to fly through Belarus, ”he says. Aleksey Butrimov emphasizes that “the only exception for today is Vilnius: it does not allow aircraft to land if the route lay through Belarus.”
Experts also considered it unlikely that Belgrade could now serve as a new transport hub for Russian tourists to Europe, given the restrictions on flights to Turkey and the closure of the channel through Belarus. “Yes, Serbia remains a visa-free country for Russians, but it does not have such a“ spread ”and developed hub as Istanbul, so there is no reason to expect that Air Serbia will try to intercept transit passenger traffic,” concluded Mr. Gusarov.