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Air France: Paris-Moscow flight cancelled over Russia’s refusal to approve Belarus bypass

Air France noted that they had offered passengers to choose a new travel date or to get a refund for the cancelled flight

PARIS, May 26. /TASS/. Air France has cancelled a Paris-Moscow flight after Russia did not approve the route avoiding Belarusian airspace, the French carrier told TASS on Wednesday.

According to the spokesman, Flight AF1154 was scrapped "for operational reasons linked to the bypassing of Belarusian airspace, requiring a new authorization from the Russian authorities to enter their territory." The carrier added that Flight AF1155 from Moscow to Paris was cancelled as well. Air France also noted that they had offered passengers to choose a new travel date or to get a refund for the cancelled flight.

Reuters reported that the airline still "planned to run its next scheduled Moscow flight on Friday, subject to Russian approval of a flight plan that would allow it to avoid overflying Belarus."

After the incident with a Ryanair jetliner’s forced landing in Minsk, the EU leaders banned Belarusian airlines from EU airports and its airspace and called on European air carriers to avoid Belarus’ airspace.

A passenger jet belonging to Ryanair, an Irish low-cost airline, performing a flight from Athens to Vilnius on May 23 was forced to make an emergency landing at Minsk International Airport after a bomb threat on board the plane had been reported. The quick reaction alert crew of a MiG-29 fighter jet was dispatched to escort the airliner.

A subsequent search after the aircraft had touched down in the Belarusian capital failed to find any information confirming the bomb scare. The Belarusian Investigative Committee opened a criminal probe into a deliberately false bomb threat message.

Minsk specified that Roman Protasevich, wanted in Belarus as a co-founder of the Nexta Telegram channel deemed extremist, had been among the flight’s passengers. He was taken into custody by law enforcement agents.