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21 October 2021, 12:12

Aviation department: Belavia has never been involved in transportation of illegal migrants

MINSK, 21 October (BelTA) - The Belarusian air carrier Belavia has never been involved in the organization of the transportation of illegal migrants, the Department of Aviation told BelTA commenting on the European Union's plans to introduce the 5th package of sanctions against Belarus, as well as on the statement of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell about the involvement of the Belarusian national airline in the organization of the illegal transportation of migrants to the EU.

The Department of Aviation considers this decision to be absolutely groundless. “As Mr. Borrel assures, he is in touch with the Iraqi authorities and the passengers arriving in Belarus ‘are not just tourists who want to visit Minsk, they are people who have been convinced that they can get to the EU through Lithuania, Latvia and Poland'. In this regard, it should be noted that Belavia has never flown to Iraq, and Iraqi Airlines began flying to Belarus in January 2017. Iraqi citizens came to our country as part of organized tourist groups, had tourist visas and round-trip tickets. At the same time, the passengers of Iraqi Airlines are not allowed to enter the territory of Belarus in case of violations. For inspection purposes the airline's aircraft remains at the airport for four hours instead of usual one hour,” the department said.

The department stressed that Belavia has never been involved in organizing the transportation of illegal migrants. “Despite the fact that the Department of Aviation and Belavia received many requests from the aviation administrations of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Afghanistan to open regular and charter flights, all of them were rejected by the Belarusian side,” the organization said.

Belavia has been operating flights in the European Union for over 25 years. It is a member of IATA, it is well known and enjoys the respect of the aviation authorities of the EU countries, partners and passengers. “To date, the airline maintains a network of representative offices in the EU countries, despite serious problems with the financing of their activities. Belavia has also received many commendations from foreign states for helping their citizens to return home during the lockdown in 2020. However, the airline has not received a single request from the EU representatives to provide information or stop operating frights to certain countries and/or carrying citizens of certain states on its flights,” said the Department of Aviation.

As for the proposal to prohibit European companies to lease aircraft to Belavia, the department stated that all agreements on aircraft leasing with the EU companies, including Ireland, had been signed long before the migration crisis emerged. “Belavia's fleet of aircraft was formed before 2020, including the supply of new aircraft in 2021, to carry out the planned program of scheduled and charter flights based on the projected demand. The airline has not taken any measures to rent planes to transport illegal migrants,” the department said.

To solve the migration issue, the EU may decide to adopt a list of individual states, whose citizens will be banned to travel by airlines flying to Belarus. The Department of Aviation, in turn, undertakes to publish this list for public use and implement this EU decision.

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