Belarusian air traffic control refused a request by a Ryanair pilot to contact the airline after being told of an alleged bomb threat, leaving him with no alternative but to land in Minsk. It was reported by Reuters.
In a letter to the Belarus transport ministry dated May 26, Ryanair Chief Executive described previous correspondence from Belarusian officials as "false and inaccurate" and said the plane had been "unlawfully diverted under false pretences".
"The pilot in command was left with no alternative but to divert to Minsk, when he was advised by Minsk ATC (Air Traffic Control) that there was a credible bomb threat to the aircraft, yet Minsk ATC refused to contact Ryanair, falsely claimed that Ryanair Ops would not answer the phone," the letter said.
The pilot repeatedly requested information about the alleged bomb threat before ultimately agreeing to land in Minsk, according to a transcript released on Tuesday by authorities in Belarus.
On May 23, the founder of the largest opposition telegram channel of Belarus NEXTA, journalist Roman Protasevich, was detained in Minsk. The plane with Roman Protasevich on board flew from Athens to Vilnius. Suddenly, the plane gave a distress signal, changed course, and made an emergency landing at the Minsk National Airport. The emergency landing was caused by a mining signal.
The EU stated that the plane of Ryanair Company was forced to land at Minsk Airport due to the actions of the Belarusian military aircraft. CEO of Ryanair Michael O'Leary stated that the forcible landing of Athens-Vilnius flight in Belarus was highjacking backed by the state.
Head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen threatened with sanctions the Belarusian officials responsible for the incident with the plane.
The U.S. and a number of the EU countries demand to stop the flights over Belarus, including the flights to the country itself.