ETF condemns flight diversion by Belarusian authorities and calls on EU Institutions and European countries to ensure aviation safety

1 Jun 2021

On May 23, Belarusian authorities took actions that led to a forced landing of a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius to Minsk to arrest an opposition journalist Roman Protasevich and his companion Sofia Sapega. The basis of the diversion was a deliberately falsified report of a potential improvised explosive device (IED) on board the aircraft.

This breach of long-standing and established international law and protocols led to a situation where workers, passengers, as well as an airline company were effectively subject to an act of ‘piracy’ with individuals subject to extrajudicial rendition.

The ETF Executive Committee strongly condemns the forced landing of a flight within the EU in a third country where flying ‘freedoms’ and international civil aviation law and protocols have been accepted. Such actions raise significant concerns in the ETF over the integrity of safety and security protocols in relation to deliberate and false warnings on possible IEDs by governments and the compromise of associated air traffic management systems.

To ensure the safety of all aviation workers, passengers and the general public, the European Commission and the Council must carry out a thorough security assessment and take necessary steps to ensure the safety of all flights within and between the EU.

The ETF calls on EU leaders to develop a prompt solution to hold Belarus accountable for their unlawful actions and ensure the safety and security of aviation. Belarusian authorities must uphold the rules of aviation security and safety; until the safety of flights within Belarus can be ensured, the ETF fully supports the ban on all flights to, from and over Belarus airspace.

We stand in full support and solidarity with the aviation workers affected by this event and demand immediate action to ensure the safety and security of aviation for all.

ETF Executive Committee’s adopted Motion can be found here.