Minister: Minsk connection to be discontinued temporarily

Belavia plane.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) said on Friday it is not guaranteed that AirBaltic will take travelers from Tallinn to Amsterdam and Copenhagen from Monday, adding that a connection to Minsk operated by Belarusian national carrier Belavia is to be discontinued temporarily.

On Thursday, the government appointed the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to weigh up restrictions on airlines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to Estonia.  

The ministry is to cooperate with the Ministry of Social Affairs, and will have the right to decide on the allocation of air traffic permits according to the public health situation and the spread of COVID-19 in Estonia and other countries

Aas specified at a press conference on Friday that the coronavirus infection rate in the Netherlands and Denmark is too high to merit reconnection. According to Aas, Norway's infection rate is low enough to allow the continuation of flights between Tallinn and Oslo, however.

"There's a problem in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, the other destinations that they (AirBaltic -ed.) proposed. We don't wish for flights to go there from Tallinn right now. We either allow or forbid; flight companies will themselves decide whether they want to fly to these locations. It is their business risk," Aas said.

In addition, the flight connection to Minsk, operated by the Belarusian carrier Belavia, is to be discontinued temporarily. "The infection rate in Minsk is very high. We are to discontinue the connection with Minsk until the situation normalizes," Aas added.

Aas said: "The fact that airlines are eager to reopen routes from Tallinn is certainly to be welcomed. But, we must do so gradually and based on the epidemiological situation in other countries."

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) said that during the past two weeks, Belarus had on average had 130 coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants. "The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has assessed that a country becomes dangerous from 50 cases," Kiik added.

Belarus has 26,772 cases of officially confirmed coronavirus cases at the time of writing, and 151 people have died.

AirBaltic announced on Thursday it will resume direct flights from Tallinn to Amsterdam, Oslo and Copenhagen on Monday. It will restart flights to Vilnius on May 25. 


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Editor: Anders Nõmm, Helen Wright

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