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U.S. Stops Short of Banning Passenger Flights Over Belarus But Urges “Extreme Cuation”

U.S. Stops Short of Banning Passenger Flights Over Belarus But Urges “Extreme Cuation”

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has urged passenger airlines to exercise “extreme caution” when planning any routes which might take them into Belarusian airspace but the Notice to Airmen, or NOTAM as such notices are commonly referred to, stopped short of urging airlines to completely avoid the country.

The FAA said U.S.-based airlines should continuing exercising 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.”

In response to the forced diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 last Sunday, Europe’s aviation regulator issued its own Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) urging airlines based in the bloc to “avoid operations” in Belarusian airspace unless deemed necessary. European airlines have all heeded the warning.

A similar advisory was issued by the UK’s Civil Aviation Administration which also banned Minsk-based Balavia Airlines from flying to or from Britain.

The only U.S.-based passenger airline to occasionally use Belarusian airspace is United Airlines. The carrier said on Friday that it would “comply” with the NOTAM notice issued by the FAA until further notice.

The NOTAM does not, however, apply to cargo-only airlines like FedEx Express or UPS.

In a statement published on Friday, the FAA said it was “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.”

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