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Singapore Airlines reroutes flights to avoid Belarus airspace after forced landing of Ryanair plane

Singapore Airlines reroutes flights to avoid Belarus airspace after forced landing of Ryanair plane

FILE PHOTO: A Singapore Airlines plane prepares for landing in Singapore January 14, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines (SIA) is currently rerouting some of its flights to avoid Belarus airspace after the eastern European country forced a Ryanair plane to land to arrest a journalist on board.

“The safety of our customers and crew is our top priority,” said an SIA spokesperson in response to a CNA query on Tuesday (May 25).

“We are currently rerouting our flights that are bound for Europe to avoid the Belarusian airspace, and we will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

A Scoot spokesperson said the airline currently does not operate any flights over Belarusian airspace, but added that it would be monitoring the situation closely.

Singapore Airlines aircraft fly around Belarusian airspace in this Tuesday, May 25, 2021, screengrab from Flightradar24. (Screengrab: Flightradar24)

READ: EU cuts air links with Belarus over forced plane landing

READ: Fury over 'state piracy' as West weighs action against Belarus

Belarus sparked international outrage on Sunday when President Alexander Lukashenko dispatched a fighter jet to intercept a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying wanted reporter Roman Protasevich, 26, and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega.

Belarus authorities later arrested the opposition journalist after the aircraft was forced to land in the capital city of Minsk.

Protasevich’s social media feed from exile has been one of the last remaining independent outlets for news about the country since a mass crackdown on dissent began last year.

The country said it was acting in response to a bomb threat on the flight, although this turned out to be false. It said on Monday that its ground controllers had given guidance to the flight but had not ordered it to land.

The move has drawn condemnation from world leaders, with United States President Joe Biden describing it as "a direct affront to international norms".

European leaders meeting in Brussels called for the release of the pair and agreed to ban Belarusian airlines from the bloc, urging EU-based carriers not to fly over its airspace.

CNA has also reached out to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

Source: CNA/agencies/kg(ta)

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