Air services

US suspends bilateral air services agreement with Belarus

The United States intends to suspend its 2019 bilateral air services agreement with Belarus, dealing another blow to the country’s already struggling aviation industry.

In a statement released on May 28, 2021, the White House said the Biden administration would step up pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko’s autocratic regime in response to what it called the continued crackdown on pro-democracy protests as well. that the forcible hijacking of Ryanair’s B737-800 on May 23 and the arrest of journalist Raman Protasevich who was on board.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States would also seek to sanction Belarusian businesses and individuals both unilaterally and in coordination with European Union partners.

“We are taking these steps, together with our partners and allies, to hold the regime accountable for its actions and to demonstrate our commitment to the aspirations of the Belarusian people,” she commented.

The 2019 bilateral air services agreement between the United States and Belarus removed all restrictions on the number of flights and routes between the two countries. However, only US and Belarusian carriers are allowed to exercise these rights.

The Belarusian government had planned to make Minsk National a fifth freedom hub and has reportedly discussed with companies like AZALAzerbaijan Airlines, Qatar Airways and Uzbekistan Airways about launching flights from their respective hubs via the Belarusian capital to the United States. However, with this latest round of sanctions, those plans are now on hold. Besides Russia, the national airline Belavia (B2, Minsk National) is now banned from flying over all of Belarus’s neighbors.

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