US Airlines Should Be Extremely Cautious While Passing Belarus: FAA

US Airlines Should Be Extremely Cautious While Passing Belarus: FAA
The Ryanair plane with registration number SP-RSM, carrying opposition figure Raman Pratasevich which was traveling from Athens to Vilnius and was diverted to Minsk after a bomb threat, lands at the International Airport outside Vilnius, Lithuania on May 23, 2021. (Mindaugas Kulbis/AP Photo)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that U.S.-based airline companies should exercise “extreme caution” when flying over Belarus.

The transportation agency and governmental body of the United States released a statement after authorities from the Eastern European country forced diversion of a Ryanair flight and arrested a dissident journalist last week.

“The FAA’s Notice to Airmen says airlines should continue to exercise extreme caution until the agency can better assess Belarus’ actions surrounding the May 23 diversion of a passenger jet and the potential for Belarus to repeat similar actions in the future,” the agency said.

“The FAA is working closely with other U.S. agencies to determine whether any additional measures may be necessary, and will evaluate an international investigation report to determine the risks for U.S. passenger airlines flying in that area.”

The FAA’s notice does not apply to cargo carriers such as United Parcel Service and FedEx that fly over the nation.

Late on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that the Biden administration will reimpose sanctions on Belarus on June 3, while also advising Americans against traveling to Belarus.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki attends the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, on May 14, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The sanctions will target nine Belarusian state-owned enterprises which had previously received sanctions relief. Americans will be prohibited from dealing with the entities beginning on Thursday.

Psaki also said the Department of Justice and the FBI are investigating the plane diversion.

According to Ryanair, the operator of the diverted flight, Belarusian flight controllers told the crew on May 23 there was a bomb threat against the plane as it was crossing through Belarus airspace and ordered it to land. A Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet was scrambled to escort the plane.

Belarus authorities then arrested Raman Pratasevich, a 26-year-old activist, journalist, and prominent Lukashenko critic.

Ivan Pentchoukov and Reuters contributed to this report.

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