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FR4978 ATH-VNO diverted, escorted to Minsk, alleged bomb threat – but was it?

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FR4978 ATH-VNO diverted, escorted to Minsk, alleged bomb threat – but was it?

Old 23rd May 2021, 12:57
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txl
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FR4978 ATH-VNO diverted, escorted to Minsk, alleged bomb threat – but was it?

Ryanair 4978, en route from Athens to Vilnius, has apparently diverted to Minsk shortly before entering Lithuanian airspace. According to unconfirmed reports from the Twittersphere, Belarus authorities forced the plane to divert because of an alleged bomb threat. Flight was escorted by a Mig. Once the plane was on ground, a passenger has reportedly been arrested, who happens to be a dissident journalist facing the death penalty jail time in Belarus, Roman Protasevich.





Last edited by txl; 23rd May 2021 at 14:43. Reason: typo, correction
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Old 23rd May 2021, 13:28
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Developing:


Part II:

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Old 23rd May 2021, 15:11
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Situation is fluid, still developing. As it appears now, Belarus intelligence operatives staged an incident aboard FR4978 as a pretext for Belarus authorities to forcibly divert the flight to Minsk. Belarus government reportedly confirmed sending a MiG to escort. Also, the arrest has been confirmed.

This is a serious international incident. 171 passengers, most of them EU-citizens. Still on ground in Minsk. Lithuanian government has summoned Belarus representative. Various politicians picking up the story, with "hijacking" and "state terrorism" being the choice of words to describe this.

Last edited by txl; 23rd May 2021 at 16:39. Reason: Correction: Number of pax
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Old 23rd May 2021, 15:57
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Hijacking a plane by state officials. Seem to be a first. Wonder what the reaction of the EU will be. At first I would freeze all assets of Mr. Lukaschenko anywhere in the EU incl. Switzerland. And auction them off if Mr. Protassewitsch is not released within days. Why does the Belarus president thinks he gets away with this?
If this becomes SOP nobody will buy a ticket.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 16:03
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This is a direct and deliberate provocation of NATO. It cannot be ignored.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 16:05
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Who wants to bet that belavia get added to the EU blacklist, and that Belarusian airspace becomes off limits to EU operators?
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Old 23rd May 2021, 16:09
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According to Air Law, shouldn't a civilian aircraft obey local airspace authorities? What captain should do, when he's asked / ordered to land?
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Old 23rd May 2021, 16:16
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.......... and what will the situation be for those 179 pax and crew in the light of COVID quarantine regulations?
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Old 23rd May 2021, 16:33
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This is an act of air piracy!

Belarus “de facto” has hijacked a foreign airplane with international passengers and arrested one of the passengers just for being a dissident to the brutal fascist Lukashenko regime, who is torturing and murdering its opponents! Belarus must be thrown out of ICAO, all the international flights to and from its airports must be suspended indefinitely, and the territory of Belarus declared a no overflight zone for the international operators!
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Old 23rd May 2021, 16:39
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Different thing though. State airplane vs public transport on a commercial operator, based on (wrong) intelligence advise vs. state hijacking of a commercial third country plane. State airplanes follow different rules and sometimes have to cope with different situations. I still remember Ms Merkels plane having to wait in a hold for more than 2 hours as some country would not grant passage mid travel to Asia (and yes, an A340 with just 50 passengers and no cargo can have enough fuel for that). It happens.

However, scheduled air traffic usually does not get diverted by state hijackers or shot down by them, except in Belarus or by Russia.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 16:58
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Kakaru

Declare an emergency and land in Lituainia.
Acording to rumours Belarussian thugs onboard trying to interfere with crew.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 16:58
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Outrageous act of state criminality. Belarus must be made to pay a major diplomatic price for diverting an international flight to commit a criminal kidnapping.

Last edited by ShotOne; 23rd May 2021 at 17:18.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 17:00
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Denti

“except in Belarus or by Russia” … and USA.

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/stories-44614512
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Old 23rd May 2021, 17:16
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With a MIG 29 on your tail and a very trigger happy dictator calling the shots?
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Old 23rd May 2021, 17:27
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AFTA;

Thing is, a very similar situation happened in 2016 with Belarus 737 reg. EW-456PA, which had been forced to land in Kyiv. It's not the first time these things happen, and it looks like if the local authorities really want to land you, they just do.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 17:44
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Not much of a diversion, closer to a false flag operation, followed by an interception. Absolutely unfathomable.

At the moment, we lack a lot of crucial information, particularly as it pertains to the timeline of things happening on the flight. When did the threats of a bomb aboard start? Immediately after entering BY airspace? To my knowledge, we are currently mostly operating on Twitter posts. With hindsight, one would take the AC over Polish (NATO) airspace right then and there, but who here could honestly make that call from a flight deck in that situation. At the time the AC turns for Minsk, they would have been closer to EYVI...so if we assume that this is the point where the crew starts taking the threat seriously, that would be your logical destination...however, a Fulcrum on your wing will surely dissuade you from just "sending it" at that point.

What matters now is that passengers and crew are returned unharmed ASAP and that Belorussian airspace be avoided for the foreseeable future. A criminal and despicable act that needs to have consequences.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 17:50
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The thugs that hijacked the flight will shortly find themselves on no fly lists, with the possible exception of Russia and certain other CIS states. There will also be Interpol red notices if they take the train to any EU states.

Bellingcat is good at seeing through phony passports.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 17:57
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Put a snow plough in front of any EW- aircraft not at home yet ! Stop all flights to or from Belorussia ?
Just a thought
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Old 23rd May 2021, 17:58
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Now FR4978 ATH-VNO diverted to Minsk, alledged bomb threat~but was it?

No bomb threat, absolutely unbelieveable.
Just heard on the BBC 1800 NEWS A/C released and on its way, repoered stated it was assumed 1 passenger arrested and not on board.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 18:27
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There was the BOAC VC-10 forced to land in Libya in 1971.
Two passengers taken off and executed.
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