The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to maintain the critical separation between politics and aviation safety issues.
The call follows the latest development in events following incident when Ryanair FR4978 was intercepted over Belarus airspace and forced to land in Minsk.
On June 2, EASA replaced its recommendation (Safety Information Bulletin) for European airlines to carefully assess the risk of flying in Belarus airspace with a blanket prohibition (Safety Directive) on European aircraft entering Belarus airspace.
"Aviation safety must never be politicised. IATA condemned the actions of Belarus government and called for an independent investigation. Banning European aircraft from using Belarusian airspace with a safety directive is also a politicisation of aviation safety," said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.
"This is a retrograde and disappointing development. EASA should rescind its prohibition and allow airlines to manage safety as they do each and every day -- with their normal operational risk assessments. Politics should never interfere with the safe operation of aircraft and politicians should never use aviation safety as a cover to pursue political or diplomatic agendas," he said.
On May 23, Ryanair flight FR4978, while overflying Belarus en-route from Athens to its final destination, Vilnius, was made to divert and land in Minsk by Belarusian authorities.
Several airlines have continued to use Belarusian airspace. IATA supports their decision to do so. On May 27, the council of International Civil Aviation Organisation decided to undertake a fact-finding investigation into the Belarus incident which IATA fully supports.