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LONDON, UKRyanair CEO Michael O'Leary has criticized the forced landing of a Boeing 737 in Belarus as "a deliberate violation of all international aviation regulations.



O'Leary testified on Tuesday to a committee of the British Parliament in London about the incident that happened three weeks ago. Ryanair's boss had previously defined the situation as a "state-sponsored hijacking" by Belarus.

The authorities of the authoritarian ex-Soviet republic had forced a Ryanair plane to make a stopover in Minsk with a fighter jet on its way from Athens to Vilnius. The government opponent Roman Protassewitsch and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega were on board. Both were arrested after landing. The EU, Great Britain, and the USA imposed sanctions on the former Soviet republic after the incident.

The pilot of the aircraft had been put under pressure by the aviation authorities in Minsk with misleading information, reported O'Leary. The crew and passengers would then have had to endure for hours in a "threatening and hostile" environment.

But the CEO does not rule out using Belarus airspace in the future saying that it would lead to longer flights and is not in the interests of the passengers.

At the end of May, the EU asked European airlines to avoid Belarus airspace during their flights. At the beginning of June, Brussels also decided to close its own airspace to Belarusian airlines.
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