Ukraine returns passenger jet en route to Minsk back to Kyiv airport under threat of scrambling fighters
Ukrainian authorities forced a Belavia passenger jet en route from Kyiv to Minsk to return to the Zhuliany airport in Kyiv under the threat of scrambling fighters, Belavia said in a statement.
"A Belavia Boeing 737-800, tail number EW-456PA, Flight B2-840 from Zhuliany (Kyiv) to Minsk, was forced to return to the departure airport. There were 136 passengers and six crewmembers on board the plane," it said.
The aircraft departed the Zhuliany airport for Minsk on schedule at 3:25 p.m. on Friday.
"At 3:36 p.m., 50 kilometers before entering Belarus' airspace, the captain received a command from the Kyiv district air traffic control center belonging to the Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise (UkSATSE) to immediately return to the departure airport without any explanations. It was also said that, in the event of disobedience, fighters would be scrambled," Belavia said.
The captain complied with the command and started to descend at 3:37 p.m. The Belavia aircraft landed at the Zhuliany airport at 3:55 p.m.
Immediately after the plane landed, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies escorted one of its passengers, a citizen of Armenia, off the plane.
After refueling, the aircraft departed Kyiv at 4:37 p.m. and safely landed at the Minsk airport at 5:33 p.m.
As for the passenger removed from the aircraft, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies later freed him, and he flew to Minsk on board Belavia Flight B2-830 at 7:00 p.m.
"Belavia intends to demand that UkSATSE compensate it for the costs related to the aircraft's return to the Zhuliany international airport," it said.
The airline's management also apologized to the passengers for any inconvenience caused by the incident.