By Ian McMurtry
Belavia Clamps Down on Yemeni, Syrian, Iraqi Passengers After Threats From EU
Coming off a summer of heavy sanctions, Belarusian flag carrier Belavia is back under the European Union’s microscope after noting that the airline is allowing passengers from war-ravaged areas of the Middle East to travel on its aircraft and escalating a dangerous situation on the Polish border.
The consistent flight of these migrants has created a humanitarian crisis at the border of Belarus and Poland as Poland and the European Union have blocked these voyages from crossing into Polish territory. European Union nations and the United Kingdom have sent troops to the border to prevent people from scaling the fence and crossing illegally into the country. Belarus has noted that this could lead to an escalated military conflict but has also noted that it has offered 10 tons worth of humanitarian aid to those stranded at the border.
However, the pressure from the European Union has grown to a full-blown attempt to stop the influx of migrants into Belarus. This pressure has extended to leasing companies, most notably Irish leasing companies being asked to review how their aircraft are being used in Belavia.
Given this large amount of pressure, Belavia and the Turkish government both caved and blocked Iraqi, Syrian and Yemeni from traveling between the nations of Turkey and Belarus.
On the airline’s website, the airline noted, “According to the decision of the competent authorities of Turkey please note that starting from 12th November 2021 the citizens of Iraq, Syria, Yemen will be denied boarding the flights from Turkey to Belarus. Belavia passengers, affected by this restriction, can make a full refund without penalty at the place of tickets issuance.”
Belavia has already been banned from flying to European Union nations since May, following the events of Ryanair Flight 4978 and the political discourse after Belarusian activist Roman Protasevich was arrested upon landing. The airline parked some of its aircraft as a result of the cut route map, awaiting future news that they could return to its western destinations.
Belavia’s current route map sits at 22 destinations to 11 different nations. Only one of these routes is currently to the hybrid European-Asian nation of Turkey, with flights to Istanbul being the lone destination. The airline has a fleet mixed between 14 Boeing 737 models and 15 Embraer E-Jets.
Turkey, on the other hand, has denied wrongdoing and pointed the flaws at the Belarusian operator and nation for welcoming these passengers on board. They noted that Turkey has not seen the same traveling clientele that Belavia does and that the foreign airlines are to blame for the humanitarian issue between Poland and Belarus.