USA Blocks Sale Of Airline Tickets To Belarus

USA Blocks Sale Of Airline Tickets To Belarus

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The United States is taking a stand against Belarus in an unusual way, following the government’s interference in a Ryanair flight in late May, which was diverted in order for a political opponent to be arrested. This decision was tentatively made last week, but has been finalized this week, after a review period.

Sale of airline tickets to Belarus blocked

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has finalized a ruled prohibiting the sale of airline tickets (including on an interline basis) between the United States and Belarus, except for any transportation deemed to be in the national interest of the United States, including on humanitarian and national security grounds.

Practically speaking, here’s how this is being done:

  • A condition will be added to all existing and future air carrier certificates and exemptions in the United States, as well as all foreign air carrier permits and exemptions
  • This will prohibit the sale of passenger air transportation, including on an interline basis, between the United States and Belarus
  • This will include sales of flights operated directly and indirectly by United States air carriers and foreign air carriers

It’s stated that this is being done at the request of the United States Department of State. On June 28, 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote a letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, stating:

In light of the Government of Belarus’ diversion of Ryanair flight 4978 on May 23, 2021, and pending the final outcome of an investigation of the incident by the International Civil Aviation Organization, it is in the foreign policy interests of the United States to limit transportation between the United States and Belarus.

Accordingly, I respectfully request the Department of Transportation prohibit the sale of passenger air transportation, including air transportation on an interline basis, between the United States and Belarus until further notice, except for any transportation deemed to be in the national interest of the United States, including on humanitarian or national security grounds.

There was a period for interested parties to file objections to this decision. Since no objections were filed, this has been finalized.

Airlines can no longer sell tickets between the United States and Belarus

An interesting path for the government to take

We’ve seen many countries take action against Belarus in recent weeks. Some countries have banned their airlines from flying over Belarusian airspace, while other countries have banned Belarusian airlines from flying over their airspace. This has forced Belarusian national carrier Belavia to cancel much of its schedule.

Admittedly the United States implementing a policy like this doesn’t have huge implications — Belavia doesn’t fly to the United States, and no US-based carriers fly to Belarus.

So instead the United States will just block ticket sales to Belarus:

  • This doesn’t ban travel from the United States to Belarus, but rather just makes it harder, as people could still travel between the United States and Belarus on separate tickets
  • Belarus isn’t exactly a major tourist destination for Americans (though I did go a few years back!), so it seems like this will largely impact those with family and other connections to Belarus, and make their travels more difficult
  • The Department of Transportation is just honoring the wishes of the Department of State here; this whole thing feels to me like trying to do something for the sake of doing it, rather than it having much significance
Minsk, Belarus

Bottom line

The United States has now officially blocked the sale of flights to & from Belarus, following the government’s involvement in diverting a Ryanair flight to arrest a political opponent. This decision was tentatively made last week, but has been finalized after a brief commenting period.

While I’m happy to see some action being taken against Belarus, I’m not sure this accomplishes a whole lot? Those who want to travel between the United States and Belarus can continue to do so, it’ll just be more expensive and difficult, as they’ll need to book two tickets. Since Belarus isn’t a major tourist destination for Americans, this will largely impact those who have family and other connections there.

What do you make of the USA banning ticket sales to Belarus?

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  1. Zed

    Ben and team: the practical implications of this policy are being implemented in (perhaps) unexpected ways. United Airlines appears to have gone beyond banning ticket sales between the United States and Belarus, and instead has simply made it impossible to book any flight to Minsk from united.com, even if the ticket is not sold in and the flight does not originate in the United States.

    For example, recently LH has added 4x weekly flights...

    Ben and team: the practical implications of this policy are being implemented in (perhaps) unexpected ways. United Airlines appears to have gone beyond banning ticket sales between the United States and Belarus, and instead has simply made it impossible to book any flight to Minsk from united.com, even if the ticket is not sold in and the flight does not originate in the United States.

    For example, recently LH has added 4x weekly flights FRA-MSQ into its reservation system beginning Oct 1 (not sure if LH actually intends to resume this service, but for now it is selling the tickets). LOT similarly shows WAW-MSQ flights in the reservation system this Fall. Many of these flights can also be booked as award tickets with miles (e.g., with Aeroplan). Turkish has maintained direct flights between IST and MSQ and these are bookable also with Turkish M&S and Aeroplan.

    However, none of these flights - including those bookable as awards on Aeroplan - are bookable with United as award tickets. This appears to be the case regardless of the booking country you select on united.com.

  2. HkCaGu

    The actions of the US and Europe are so far sufficient to warn other authoritarian nations thinking of doing the same without consequences.

  3. Anonymous

    Yes but this does affect those who have family in Belarus and live in the US. So being more sympathize To the people of Belarus is necessary.

  4. Irina

    There were objections to the policy. The policy does not impact regime AT ALL, the only impacted party are dual American-Belarussian families and legal residents from Belarus who now unable to see their elder parents and take care of them. When you now can hug your loved ones, YOU STOLE THIS RIGHT FROM US! ZERO impact on the problem

  5. John C

    Interesting comments, people may not know this but the United States did a similar thing with Boško Radonjić (Google him). He was on a plane from Europe to Cuba in 1999 where he was going for New Year's celebrations but after learning that Radonjić was on the passenger list the FBI got the plane re-routed to Miami where he was arrested in spectacular manner as the entire airport was shut down.

  6. Will

    “trying to do something for the sake of doing it, rather than it having much significance”

    You’ve 100% describe them US government accurately

  7. Alex

    This ban has nothing to do with the government of Belarus. It punishes those people who can travel to and from the country (relatives, friends, and so on).
    Instead of banning companies, which have ties to Belarussian government-owned entities, it is directed against ordinary citizens.
    It looks absolutely meaningless and contra-productive to me.

  8. Feds

    Not all that glitters is gold and so is this situation.

    Lukashenko pulled a crazy stunt in taking that airplane down, but there is ample evidence that the US was orchestrating an attempt to bring down the government. Banning tickets is their latest hissy fit at failing.

  9. Anastasia

    As Ben pointed out, this mostly harms Belarusian nationals who want to either travel home or travel and get back home.

    1. Steve

      Right that is the exact point, tell their citizens that this is not acceptable and hope they force change. Why would Biden want to punish our own citizens for this, every sanction should be targeted at their citizens not ours. Plus does it really hurt them just book a separate ticket from Berlin or wherever else you fly into.

    2. Mh

      Your post is so unaware of reality.

      The citizens have been demanding change! And as a result their president has been arresting them and imprisoning them, beating them and generally forcing them to stop. How to force change when the president uses police and military forces against you, and is not democratic???

    3. Mh

      (The above post is referring to Steve, as this new web site doesn't indent/show attribution properly.)

    4. Feds

      Citizens demanding change? How many? Who? Which facets of society? Contrary to popular belief, only a tiny fraction of "citizens" turned up to protest, and there are quite a few who were not citizens at those protests.

      Don't believe everything you read.

    5. Gulfstream

      So Feds, if you don't believe everything you read, how do you know that quite a few protestors weren't citizens? Were you there and checking passports yourself?
      Or do you have "inside knowledge"?

      p.s. Writing "Which facets of society" is very strange usage of the English language. Maybe it gives away your true background....

      Ypa tavarys!

    6. Feds

      I admit I was upset at the above post for having what I felt is a very ignorant worldview and typed rather quickly. If I could, I would have edited my above post to be more specific and accurate, but alas, such features weren't available here and so my above post remains the way it is.

      I didn't say don't believe anything. I said don't believe everything. Of course there are reliable sources of information...

      I admit I was upset at the above post for having what I felt is a very ignorant worldview and typed rather quickly. If I could, I would have edited my above post to be more specific and accurate, but alas, such features weren't available here and so my above post remains the way it is.

      I didn't say don't believe anything. I said don't believe everything. Of course there are reliable sources of information out there. For example, you can read of instances of Ukrainian activists arrested for protesting in Belarus -- two were members of Vostok SOS. There were others arrested and deported but I can't speak of their particular citizenship status.

      I have to ask what are they doing protesting another country's election. It's not their country or their business. Just imagine the kind of response that would take place if it was discovered that Russian citizens with ties to pro-Russian organizations were marching in DC on January 6th opposing the 2020 election results. I see no reason why it should be any different here.

      We've seen these anti-government protests elsewhere -- Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, etc. They are called color revolutions (because the movements usually define themselves by color). It was confirmed years ago that these protests were organized by groups in the United States, including the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute for Foreign Affairs. 20 years ago, it was a fresh tactic. They trained segments of society on how to protest, sent them out in public, and then gave them perfect media coverage. Instead of rioters, they are citizens. Instead of lawbreakers, they are heroes. It works if no other opinions are tolerated. Then it appears that the entire country really does hate the government.

      With this in mind, it was no surprise to see the United States immediately take the side of the opposition leader who after losing claimed she won with at least 60% of the vote. She created a group called the "Coordination Council for the Transfer of Power" and demanded that Lukashenko give her the presidency just like that. The US supported her claims and insisted that Lukashenko should step down.

      Now for the sakes of Westerners here, just imagine for a second if President Trump set up a Coordination Council for the Transfer of Power and President Putin endorsed his demands as hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters protested in the streets of Washington D.C. for months. Imagine if the media gave them favorable coverage as the heroes of democracy against a rigged election and imagine if Russia was described as a defender of Democracy for meddling in the election. The only difference is in the real world it is the US who has been caught meddling in Belarus.

      There is a whole network of US-tied activists in the country who operate with coordination from the National Endowment for Democracy. Don't take my word for it. The National Endowment for Democracy admitted it in a zoom call to Russian comedians who pretended to be opposition leaders in Belarus. These protests have the US's fingerprints all over it.

      As for my English, "facets of society" is a common phrase. You can read it in newspapers all over. Just do a Google search.

    7. Anastasia

      I'm a Belarusian watching what happening since the election in August. People turned out to protest, tens of thousands, across the country. (Belarus has a population of only 10 million). Keep in mind that professions like doctors, teachers, etc are considered civil servants and can be fired for participating in such protests, many did anyway. They've been tear gassed, beaten, imprisoned, charged with false crimes, and literally seized off the street and charged with bogus...

      I'm a Belarusian watching what happening since the election in August. People turned out to protest, tens of thousands, across the country. (Belarus has a population of only 10 million). Keep in mind that professions like doctors, teachers, etc are considered civil servants and can be fired for participating in such protests, many did anyway. They've been tear gassed, beaten, imprisoned, charged with false crimes, and literally seized off the street and charged with bogus crimes. Please stop negating the courageous efforts and the suffering of the Belarusian people.

    8. Feds

      @Anastasia - The protesters were participating in a US-led coup as evidenced by my previous post. The only reason the US is so determined to remove Lukashenko is not because they love democracy (they don't) but rather because they want to use Belarus as a staging ground to fight Russia. Such existential threats are obviously not treated lightly in the East.

      I actually feel sorry for protesters. They believe the lie that the US...

      @Anastasia - The protesters were participating in a US-led coup as evidenced by my previous post. The only reason the US is so determined to remove Lukashenko is not because they love democracy (they don't) but rather because they want to use Belarus as a staging ground to fight Russia. Such existential threats are obviously not treated lightly in the East.

      I actually feel sorry for protesters. They believe the lie that the US supports their cause when in reality the US always sells out their "allies." Look at Mikheil Saakashvili. Where is he today? Look at Aung San Suu Kyi who has been arrested again. Look at the Free Syrian Army that is trashed. Look at Juan Guaidó of Venezuela. Look at Iraq and Libya. The US doesn't care about these individuals or regions. Throw-away culture in the West includes people.

  10. Kiwi

    Sounds like they're also blocking US point of sale for tickets flying to Belarus. That'd make it much harder for the average US flyer than just buying two tickets.

  11. Jerry

    This is going to be challenging for students in Florida. I assumed because of the visa on arrival at MSQ program, it would be the easiest destination for them to visit during their civics class after the governor's upcoming mandate on "diverse" political affiliation and education. Since the GOP has lost the White House and Congress, this would be the best place to see American authoritative Conservative values in place.

  12. Joey

    It would make more sense to not fly over Belarussian air space to prevent future unexpected diversions to Minsk airport.

  13. DenB

    This move by the USA is, as Ben says, mostly symbolic. Symbols matter. Belarus' hijack can't go unpunished or the next thug, tempted to do the same, will say "the Americans don't punish these things". It's important to protect aviation. How can a reader of this blog disagree with that? Let the Belarussian leader be a thug, I'm not arguing the politics. If he wants to kidnap journos he can kill them in his consulate,...

    This move by the USA is, as Ben says, mostly symbolic. Symbols matter. Belarus' hijack can't go unpunished or the next thug, tempted to do the same, will say "the Americans don't punish these things". It's important to protect aviation. How can a reader of this blog disagree with that? Let the Belarussian leader be a thug, I'm not arguing the politics. If he wants to kidnap journos he can kill them in his consulate, that's another matter for another forum. But hijacking a plane is out, and I'm glad for any government or entity that enforces that principle. Keeping aviation free of mischief is not a left-right thing. It's really not.

    1. Steve

      Best response on here, too bad everyone in our country uses every story as a way to argue their political beliefs. People are incapable of not turning something into left vs right. This is a travel and aviation blog not a political forum i wish more people remembered that!

    2. snic

      "the next thug, tempted to do the same, will say "the Americans don't punish these things". "

      Right, the next thug will say, "The Americans will punish me by making it slightly more difficult for expats from my country living in America to come back to visit. This is such a devastating punishment that I cannot risk it."

  14. torontoflyer

    I wonder why they did not go to the full extent of declaring Belarus as State Sponsors of Terrorism just like they did on Cuba. Would pretty much imposing the same effect plus a couple more... I think most would consider what they did as a hijacking event sponsored by the state..

  15. EC2

    This was our State Dept. trying to address this incident, but in a way that really really doesn’t hurt Belarus but they can say we are punishing them. (Hint: we’re not.) It really just minimally hurts travelers.

  16. JBR

    Why o why do so many trolls always show up to defend a country that hijacked a plane flying through its territory every time a blog is posted on this site about it? Both so funny and pathetic at the same time...

    1. Alan

      Why are you defending the US which has done much worse around the world? This action will simply make it more difficult for Belearussians who have family in Belarus or the US to travel back and forth.

  17. Dom

    The USA needs to stop stick sticking its nose into Belarus business. This is a gross over reaction.

    1. Freedom

      Well then Belarus needs to stop being a violent dictatorship. That's the business of all humans.

    2. Alan

      Do you feel the same way about the US? One useless war after another and untold multitudes of dead throughout the world. Of those illegally jailed in Guantanamo, how many were kidnapped?

  18. shoeguy

    I'm not condoning the behavior of Belarus' leadership and the recent incident where a Ryanair plane was diverted to arrest someone, while dubious and the equivalent of air piracy, is something the United States has also done in the past, notably in the 1980s, when US or NATO fighter jets diverted an Egyptair jet carrying terrorists to a base in Sicily. Whether or not it was the right thing to do is the subject of...

    I'm not condoning the behavior of Belarus' leadership and the recent incident where a Ryanair plane was diverted to arrest someone, while dubious and the equivalent of air piracy, is something the United States has also done in the past, notably in the 1980s, when US or NATO fighter jets diverted an Egyptair jet carrying terrorists to a base in Sicily. Whether or not it was the right thing to do is the subject of debate, but the United States really does need to stop its ludicrous and hollow campaign of being the flag bearer of democracy and turn its attention to its incessant, institutional racism, idiotic political wars, deepening divides between rich and everyone else, and sit up and understand its place in the world is much diminished and likely will be so for the long haul.

    1. David

      If this is such a terrible country, then for God's sake why don't you just move somewhere else? If I was that unhappy with where I lived, I would move to another country.

      I'm not happy with the results of the last election, but I would still rather live here than anywhere else.

    2. Hosea

      Conservatives like David frequently feel like their political grievances are the only legitimate ones, while others' grievances render them unworthy or citizenship or residence. It's an extremely selfish ideology.

    3. Steve

      How is that selfish? If you are unhappy with your life then change it, if you dont like your job get another one, if you are unhappy with where you live then move. Its pretty simple and thankfully everyone in the US has the opportunity to move about freely , as long as the fasten seatbelt sign isnt on : ). How are you so upset Hosea by one man's opinion, that is pretty sad....

      How is that selfish? If you are unhappy with your life then change it, if you dont like your job get another one, if you are unhappy with where you live then move. Its pretty simple and thankfully everyone in the US has the opportunity to move about freely , as long as the fasten seatbelt sign isnt on : ). How are you so upset Hosea by one man's opinion, that is pretty sad. You argue that David cant see other people's viewpoint yet you clearly refuse to even acknowledge his and attempt to shame him for his beliefs, pretty hypocritical of you Mr. Hosea.

    4. RTFlyer

      "Conservatives like David frequently feel their..." you know him? What if I said YOU sound like your grievances are the only legitimate ones?

    5. shoeguy

      Oh believe me, I'd turn my back on it immediately if I could and would rather live abroad again but the "if you don't like it then leave mindset" is typical of the Q-Anon mob that has degraded this country to the level it has reached.

    6. Steve

      No it is really that simple, if you have the necessary skills you will be hired, guess the millions of people who are leaving certain states to move to texas, arizona, and florida are all apart of the q-anon mob... Maybe if you focused on improving your own skills instead of complaining about the right then you could be hired by companies that would move you abroad.

    7. Ben L.

      Reacting to someone's criticism of their own country by telling them to leave is an ugly personality trait

    8. BookLvr

      +1 on Ben L's comment.

      "I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually." --James Baldwin

    9. glennt

      If you was so unhappy with the US election, then maybe Belarus is the place for you! Ruled ruthlessly by a fully-fledged autocrat it is several steps ahead of your idol, Donald Trump. That's the sort of thing you're after, right?

  19. Bruce

    For a society that claims to be so obsessed with liberty, this measure imposes greatly on the personal freedom of individuals. Hypocrisy should be the motto of the US.

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JBR

Why o why do so many trolls always show up to defend a country that hijacked a plane flying through its territory every time a blog is posted on this site about it? Both so funny and pathetic at the same time...

DenB

This move by the USA is, as Ben says, mostly symbolic. Symbols matter. Belarus' hijack can't go unpunished or the next thug, tempted to do the same, will say "the Americans don't punish these things". It's important to protect aviation. How can a reader of this blog disagree with that? Let the Belarussian leader be a thug, I'm not arguing the politics. If he wants to kidnap journos he can kill them in his consulate, that's another matter for another forum. But hijacking a plane is out, and I'm glad for any government or entity that enforces that principle. Keeping aviation free of mischief is not a left-right thing. It's really not.

Freedom

Well then Belarus needs to stop being a violent dictatorship. That's the business of all humans.

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