Ryanair’s chief government has described the compelled diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 to Minsk as “a state-sponsored hijacking”.

Michael O’Leary was giving proof to a particular enquiry by the Transport Choose Committee into the incident.

The routine flight departed Athens for the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, on 23 Could. Among the many 132 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 737 have been the distinguished opposition activist, Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega.

The plane was 60 miles from its supposed vacation spot of Vilnius when the crew have been knowledgeable of a possible safety menace on board. The captain was urged to divert to the closest airport, Minsk, with a MiG-29 fighter in attendance.

“He wasn’t instructed to take action however wasn’t left with many alternate options,” Mr O’Leary instructed MPs.

The Ryanair CEO revealed that, on arrival within the Belarus capital, the flight crew have been requested to report video statements saying that they had voluntarily chosen to divert to Minsk however refused to take action.

“It was a really threatening and hostile setting,” he mentioned.

Mr Protasevich and Ms Sapega have been arrested and are nonetheless in detention. On Monday 14 June Mr Protasevich took half in a authorities information convention in Minsk. He’s believed to have been collaborating beneath duress.

The flight resumed after a number of hours on the bottom.

Mr O’Leary mentioned that three different individuals didn’t proceed their journey: one travelling on a Belarus passport, one on a Greek passport and one on a Russian passport.

The Ryanair boss speculated they have been KGB operatives. His remaining assertion was: “You can’t have plane being hijacked or diverted beneath piratical circumstances in order that particular person passengers could be detained or have their freedoms withdrawn in a reprehensible method as occurred on 23 Could in Belarus.”

Within the wake of the diversion, the nationwide airline, Belavia, was banned from massive areas of European airspace. Many European governments instructed their airways to not overfly Belarus.

The Belarus ambassador declined an invite to attend the committee’s inquiry. He wrote to Huw Merriman, chair of the Transport Choose Committee, and referred to as the ban on Belavia an “act of stress.”


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