The US Department of Transportation tentatively acted to prohibit the sale of passenger flights between the US and Belarus. The move comes in response to a request from the US Department of State and as a result of the Ryanair flight 4978 on May 23, 2021.
By this Order, the U.S. Department of Transportation (the Department) has tentatively decided to prohibit the sale of passenger air transportation, including air transportation on an interline basis, between the United States and Belarus, except for any transportation deemed to be in the national interest of the United States, including on humanitarian or national security grounds.
The move comes a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigeg requesting the move. Blinken declared it “in the foreign policy interests of the United States to limit transportation between the United States and Belarus” pending the final outcome of an investigation of the incident by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Interested parties have two business days to file objections to the tentative order. The Department also notes that “If timely and properly supported objections are filed, the Department will afford full consideration to the matters or issues raised by the objections before taking further action.” Lacking those objections, however, the order could become final before the end of the week.
The US move follows four weeks after European regulators prohibited operation of aircraft in the country where the operating certificate was issued by EASA:
International airline lobbying group IATA opposed EASA’s moves at the time, with Director General Willie Walsh stating, “Two wrongs don’t make a right. Politics should never interfere with the safe operation of aircraft and politicians should never use aviation safety as cover to pursue political or diplomatic agendas.”
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