Latvia restricts air traffic with Belarus

In response to the actions of the Belarusian authorities in intercepting a civilian passenger aircraft, on the evening of May 25, the Latvian government introduced restrictions on carriers registered in Belarus entering Latvian airspace and using Latvian airports.

The rights of Latvian aircraft are also restricted with regard to using Belarusian airspace and airports. The decision takes effect immediately, according to a release by Transport Ministry.

The government decision also stipulates that Latvian airports shall not service aircraft of other countries that use Belarusian airspace on their flight route.

The Ministry of Transport will suspend the flight permit of the Belarusian airline Belavia and shall not issue non-scheduled flight permits to Belarusian carriers. The airBaltic route permit to Minsk will also be suspended.

“This is an unprecedented case in the history of civil aviation and a violation of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. It endangered the safety of passengers, crew, and aircraft. I am pleased that the EU Council assessed the incident in exactly the same way yesterday; its recommendations align with the Latvian government’s position. Our decisions are coordinated and reasoned,” Minister of Transport Tālis Linkaits said.

The government order will remain in force until the Civil Aviation Agency makes a decision on airspace safety in the Republic of Belarus for flights after the assessment.

Linkaits said at a press conference on Wednesday, May 26, that restrictions would be in place as long as there were safety hazards in Belarusian airspace.

Linkaits said that general calculations have been made regarding economic effects but since it is commercial information, it cannot be provided exactly. However, according to the Minister, if limits are in place only during the summer period, the losses will be measured in thousands of euros, but if they remain in place for years - in millions of euros.

It is planned to work on compensatory mechanisms at EU level.

Asked how Latvian nationals currently in Belarus should get home, the Minister said that they could get home by other means. Latvia shares a 172-kilometer border with Belarus.

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