The U.S. Transportation Department on Tuesday issued an order to ban ticket sales for air travel between the United States and Belarus, acting after Minsk forced a Ryanair flight to land and arrested a dissident journalist who was aboard.
In issuing the order, the Transportation Department said the U.S. State Department had determined that limiting travel between the United States and Belarus was in Washington’s foreign policy interest in light of the diversion of the Ryanair flight.
It said the order would extend to “interline” travel in which tickets are purchased through one airline that contain flights operated by multiple airlines.
The order – a step that has been under consideration by the U.S. government for several weeks – is mostly symbolic since relatively few tickets are purchased for travel to Belarus from U.S.-based travel services. It is open for public comment until July 1.
After the May 23 forced landing of the Ryanair flight, which was en route from Athens to Vilnius, the U.S. government advised passenger airlines to use “extreme caution” when flying over Belarus. At the time, however, the United States stopped short of imposing any restrictions.
The “Notice to Airmen” does not apply to cargo carriers such as United Parcel Service and Fedex Corp that fly over Belarus. United Airlines flies a route to India that sometimes is routed near Belarus, but no other U.S. passenger carrier typically flies through the former Soviet republic’s airspace.