The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has released a fact-finding report into a incident involving Ryanair flight FR4978 in Belarus airspace. The authority has also scheduled a Council meeting where member-states will consider the report findings. Council representatives will also review a request from Belarus regarding the legitimacy of sanctions placed on the state by the European Union. 

According to the ICAO statement, the recently issued report was drawn up by the authority’s Fact-Finding Investigation Team and is based on operational information, technical analyses and other data regarding Ryanair flight FR4978, which has been previously provided to ICAO experts by other countries.  

In a meeting, which is scheduled to take place on January 31, 2022, all 193 ICAO member-states, including representatives from the 36 states that form the ICAO Council, will review the report findings and will “formally consider any further actions”, the organization said

ICAO will investigate the alleged forced diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 by the Belarus regime.

“The Council will also review a request from Belarus regarding what the State considers to have been unlawful restrictions or sanctions which were placed upon it in the aftermath of the event, by other States and the EU,” the statement reads. 

According to Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary, Belarus ATC gave pilots of flight FR4978 no alternative but to divert to Minsk.

On May 23, 2021, Ryanair’s Boeing 737, registered as SP-RSM, operating flight FR4978 from Athens (ATH), Greece, to Vilnius (VNO), Lithuania, was informed by Belarusian air traffic control that a bomb had been planted in the aircraft. After the flight was forced to land in Minsk (MSQ), escorted by an armed Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet, two passengers identified as opposition journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega, were arrested by the KGB, the Belarusian security services. 

Following the outrage over the diversion of a Ryanair flight, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said he “acted legally” to counter a bomb threat.

The move sparked outrage from Western countries, prompting a demand for sanctions against the Belarusian regime.  

The diversion of a Ryanair flight by the Belarusian regime to arrest a journalist drew the ire of several nations calling for sanctions.