The national airline of Belarus, Belavia, has suspended its flights to several European Union destinations, including Budapest after a ban on Belarusian carriers accessing EU airports and flying through EU airspace has taken effect. As a result, no direct flight from Budapest to Minsk is in operation.
The EU imposed a flight ban on Belarus on June 4th in response to Minsk’s forced diversion of a passenger flight last month due to the arrest of a government-critical journalist who was on board.
Hungary has also joined the European Union in condemning the action, imposing sanctions on Alexander Lukashenko’s regime, and banning Belarusian travel over the EU’s airspace.
Before the EU ban, Belavia operated flights between Belarus and some 20 airports in Europe.
Despite the unusual unity among EU countries, not everyone agreed with the decision.
The chief executive of Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air, for example, strongly disapproved the bloc’s decision.
“I don’t think this is the right response,” József Váradi told Reuters, adding that he doesn’t think “…aviation should be used as a means for political sanctions.”
According to Váradi, the appropriate response to Belarus is up to politicians, “…but I don’t think they should be using our industry for that.”
Blurring diplomatic and safety considerations could undermine a global aviation industry already struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.
Featured photo illustration via Wikipedia/Nikolaiko27