(Bloomberg) -- Flights are being re-directed to avoid Belarusian airspace after the government in Minsk forced a Ryanair Holdings Plc plane to land and arrested a journalist on board.
The European Union will consider further sanctions against President Alexander Lukashenko’s administration when its leaders meet for dinner in Brussels on Monday night for the start of a two-day summit.
Potential measures could include suspending flights over Belarus, banning the country’s national airline from landing at EU airports and blocking ground transit into the EU from Belarus, according to a person familiar with summit preparations.
The EU was already working on an additional package of sanctions over Belarus’s disputed election last year and will now look at increasing the pressure on .
Read More: How Belarus Snatched a Dissident Off a Ryanair Plane From Greece
- Ryanair jet diverted to Minsk under escort from Mig-29 fighter jet
- Belarusian journalist removed from plane in Belarusian capital
- U.S. and EU leaders condemn actions by authorities in Belarus
All times are Central European Time.
‘State-Sponsored Hijacking’ (10:10 a.m.)
“This was a case of state-sponsored hijacking,” Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said in comments broadcast by RTE Radio. The airline has to do a “detailed debrief today with the NATO and EU authorities” after the incident, which he said saw passengers and crew held under armed guard.
It appears the intent of Belarusian authorities was to remove a journalist and his traveling companion, O’Leary said. “We believe there was also some KGB agents offloaded off the aircraft as well,” he said.
Irish Minister Calls for Tough EU Response (10:00 a.m.)
“This was effectively aviation piracy, state sponsored,” Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney told RTE Radio. The EU’s response “has to be clear, tough, and needs to happen quickly,” he said.
Belarus’s Bonds Tumble (9:30 a.m.)
Worries over potential sanctions are scaring away bond investors. Belarus’s dollar bonds due 2031 tanked early on Monday, pushing yields up 23 basis points to a one-month high of 7.48%. The bonds traded at a yield of above 8% in August after authorities cracked down on protesters following Lukashenko’s claim to a landslide election victory.
Flights Avoid Belarus (9:25 a.m.)
Wizz Air Holdings Plc, Eastern Europe’s biggest discount carrier, said it has rerouted a service from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to Tallinn in Estonia to avoid Belarusian airspace. A spokesman said in an email that the Budapest-based company is “continuously monitoring and evaluating the situation.”
Latvia’s national carrier Airbaltic has decided to avoid Belarusian air space “for the time being,” Latvian Transport Minister Talis Linkaits said in interview with Latvijas Radio.
Poland to Call for More Sanctions Against Lukashenko (9:22 a.m.)
Belarus’s neighbor, Poland, will propose new sanctions against Lukashenko’s government at Monday’s EU meeting, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski. He declined to specify the type of measures Warsaw will seek, saying the government wants to consult with EU partners first.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.