Damascus-based private carrier Cham Wings Airlines have suspended its air services connecting Damascus, Syria, and Minsk, Belarus. 

According to the airline’s statement seen by Associated Press News, the carrier decided to halt all flights from Damascus International Airport (DAM) to Minsk International Airport (MSQ) due to the ongoing migrant crisis on the Belarus-Poland border. The move came into force on November 13, 2021. 

The company argued that since the majority of passengers flying the route were Syrian citizens, it was difficult to distinguish who was travelling to Minsk for migration to the European Union purposes.

Meanwhile, flight record data confirms that Cham Wings Airlines, which operates a monogamous fleet of three Airbus A320-200 passenger planes, has stopped the Damascus-Minsk service. According to the Flightradar24.com data, the company’s last flight to Minsk was made on November 10, 2021, with its A320-200 jet, registered as YK-BAB. A couple of days later, on November 12, 2021, the same aircraft returned to the airline’s base at DAM airport.

Cham Wings Airlines did not specify when the route could be resumed. 

Cham Wings Airlines is not the only carrier to discontinue flights to Minsk. On November 12, 2021, both the Civil Aviation Authority of Turkey and the flag carrier of Belarus, Belavia, decided to suspend the ability to purchase airline tickets to fly to Minsk, Belarus, for citizens of Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Turkey’s CAA announced that the decision to halt ticket sales came as a response “to the problem of illegal border crossings” happening between Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus in recent months as a route to enter the territory of the EU.

“Due to the problem of illegal border crossings between the European Union and Belarus, it has been decided that the citizens of Iraq, Syria, and Yemen who want to travel to Belarus from Turkish airports will not be allowed to buy tickets and boarding until further notice,” the CAA wrote in its statement.

Later the same day, Belavia took a similar decision. Citing Turkey’s decision, the national airline of Belarus announced that it would no longer accept citizens of the three Middle Eastern countries on its flights connecting Turkey and Belarus. 

“In accordance with the decision of the competent authorities of Turkey, from [November 12, 2021], citizens of Iraq, Syria, Yemen will not be accepted for carriage on flights from Turkey to Belarus,”Belavia’s official statement reads.

The airline added: “Belavia passengers falling under this ban can make a full refund of the ticket price without deduction at the place of purchase.”

Thousands of migrants from Iraq, Syria, Congo, Cameroon have been flying to Belarus aiming to enter into the European Union. Various EU countries have accused Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko of fueling a migrant crisis by reportedly offering cheap Belarusian tourist visas to Iraq, Syrian, Congolese, Cameroonian, and other nationals as well as promising them an easier passage into the EU and increasing the frequency of flights between Middle Eastern destinations and Minsk. The actions are considered to be Belarusia’s response to the EU sanctions imposed on the Lukashenko regime after the Belarusian Presidential elections, which the EU regards illegitimate.