Ryanair flight briefly enters Belarusian airspace to avoid a thunderstorm

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Ryanair flight FR2872 from Milan Bergamo (BGY) to Vilnius (VNO) briefly entered Belarusian airspace on August 25, 2022. 

According to Flightradar24 data, the Boeing 737-800, owned by Ryanair’s subsidiary Malta Air, proceeded through Italian, Austrian, Czech and Polish airspaces, and took a turn east shortly before entering Lithuanian airspace. 

Around 8:14 pm GMT it entered Belarusian airspace near Lida and spent four minutes there, turning north and reentering Lithuanian airspace before landing at VNO. 

According to Aerotelegraph, which reported the story first, the flightpath was changed to avoid severe thunderstorms. 

The LightningMaps.org website indeed shows heavy storms in and around southern Lithuania on August 25, which likely prompted the pilots to briefly change their course. 

This was the first time a Ryanair aircraft had entered Belarusian airspace since May 2021, when Belarusian authorities diverted the carrier’s aircraft. 

In that incident, FR4978 landed in Minsk (MSQ) after what was later found out to be a fake bomb threat, engineered by Belarusian authorities.  

Belarusian oppositional activist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapiega were arrested immediately after the landing. 

In July 2022, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) issued a report which condemned Belarus for endangering the safety of the flight with a deliberately false bomb threat. 

The incident resulted in many European airlines, including Ryanair, starting to change their flight plans to avoid Belarusian airspace.  

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