At an urgent meeting of the Council of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on Thursday, Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Lithuania Marius Skuodis has repeatedly urged a comprehensive and objective investigation of the incident on May 23, when an international Ryanair flight to Vilnius with 126 passengers was forcibly landed in Minsk. ICAO, which unites 193 countries, has taken account of the proposals of Lithuania and other countries – the organisation of the United Nations plans to undertake a fact-finding investigation in accordance with Article 55 of the Chicago Convention to examine all circumstances of the incident.
“Referring to the Chicago Convention, the Republic of Lithuania calls the ICAO Council for a thorough and objective investigation of the situation. Given that the issue concerns a European Union aircraft, the EU Aviation Safety Agency EASA should be involved in such investigation too. Our greatest concern is the safety of all air passengers”, said Minister Skuodis at the urgent meeting of the ICAO Council to discuss the incident on Sunday in Belarus.
The Minister emphasised that the occurrence in the Belarusian airspace and actions of current Belarusian authorities clearly show the existence of an increased safety risk for flights over Belarus which in turn puts into question the ability of Belarus to provide safe air navigation services. This has also been identified by EASA, which issued the Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) with the recommendations to all operators to avoid the Belarusian airspace unless the use of that airspace is deemed necessary to ensure safe operation in case of unforeseen circumstances. A number of European airlines, including SAS, Air Baltic, Wizz Air, Air France, Lufthansa, Finnair, have already taken the decision to avoid the Belarusian airspace.
Besides Lithuania, representatives of Belarus, Ireland and Poland, which were involved in the incident, were given the opportunity to speak, members of the Council also expressed their position.
At the ICAO Council meeting, Minister Skuodis raised questions related to the plane incident in Belarus. For instance, it is still unknown why the pilots of the forcibly landed Ryanair plane were not provided with full information to make decisions, in particular, why Minsk claims being unable to reach the airlines’ representatives while Ryanair claims this is not true. Why was the aircraft diverted to Minsk airport only minutes away from the Lithuanian border? Why passengers were kept in the plane when a possible case of bomb threat was suspected? Why normal evacuation protocols were not deployed? Why were five passengers not allowed to re-board the aircraft at Minsk airport and continue their journey to Vilnius? Also, why did the Belarus air traffic controllers informed the pilot of the Ryanair plane about the suspected bomb almost 30 minutes before they received the alleged threatening letter from Hamas?
The Minister informed that Lithuania is ready to cooperate with international institutions and provide them with all the necessary information.
Pranešimą paskelbė: Dalia Perednienė, LR Susisiekimo ministerija