Air France was forced to cancel a Paris-Moscow flight because the Russian authorities did not approve a new route intended to avoid the overflight of Belarus. 

In the late evening of May 24, 2021, the 27 member states of the European Union asked their airlines to avoid the overflight of Belarus and demanded “the immediate release” of journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega, arrested the day before. The day after, Air France announced the overflight of Belarus by its aircraft was suspended.

To bypass Belarusian airspace, Air France had to receive a new authorization from Russia to enter its territory. However, it appears that Moscow did not give its consent to the new flight plan. On May 26, 2021, flight AF1154 from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) had to be canceled for “operational reasons.”

"Air France confirms the cancellation of flight AF1154 of May 26, 2021, on the Paris-Charles de Gaulle-Moscow route, for operational reasons related to bypassing Belarusian airspace requiring a new authorization from the Russian authorities to enter on their territory, ” said a spokesperson of the French airline.

The same flight due to take place on May 27, 2021, was also canceled.

Meanwhile, the administration of Alexander Lukashenko accused France of “air piracy” for having refused the overflight of its airspace to a plane of the Belarusian state-owned airline Belavia, which was on a Minsk-Barcelona route on May 26, 2021. The aircraft was forced to make a U-turn at the Polish border and land back in Minsk.

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A Belavia Embraer E195LR en route from Minsk to Barcelona turned back as it was denied access to the Polish airspace.