VILNIUS – Air Montenegro's plane did not violate sanctions when it flew over Belarus on its way to Vilnius as non-EU air carriers are only advised to avoid Belarusian airspace, Lithuanian aviation authorities said on Monday.
Belarus' news website Belsat.eu earlier reported, citing the MotolkoPomogi channel, that Air Montenegro's 4o-AOA charter flight from Tivat flew over Belarusian territory, despite the ban, before entering Lithuanian airspace and landing in Vilnius at 10 a.m. on Monday.
This was the fifth flight since the new charter route was launched in late May, Belsat.eu reported, noting that no planes had crossed Belarusian airspace on this route so far.
Based on preliminary information, the shortening of the route by the pilots was not caused by bad weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances, according to the website.
The Lithuanian Transport Safety Administration (LTSA) told BNS that it was aware of the flight as it had given permission to Air Montenegro to operate a series of charter flights from Tivat to Vilnius and back.
"The operation of this flight does not constitute a violation as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) safety directive only recommends that non-EU air carriers entering Lithuanian airspace avoid Belarusian airspace. They are not prohibited from flying through Belarusian airspace," the LTSA said in a comment to BNS.
"EU air carriers cannot cross the country's airspace," it noted.
However, the authority said it would ask Air Montenegro to follow the recommendation.
Oro Navigacija (Air Navigation), Lithuania's air navigation service provider, also says that Montenegro is not on the list of sanctioned countries (which includes Russia and Belarus), that the flight is not subject to any sanctions and that the aircraft flew according to its flight plan.
In May 2021, Lithuania banned all flights in and out of the country from flying through Belarusian airspace. The move followed the forced landing of Ryanair's Athens-Vilnius flight in Minsk and the arrest of blogger Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega.
In response, the EU also banned Belarusian carriers from its airspace and airports.