UPDATE – Russia approves Air France, Lufthansa routes avoiding Belarus

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Air France and Lufthansa have received approval from Russia for flight routes to the country that avoid Belarusian airspace, the airlines said on Saturday.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has advised domestic and foreign airlines to avoid Belarusian air space following the May 23 forced landing in Minsk of a Ryanair jet en route to Lithuania from Greece, and the arrest of a dissident journalist on board.

Air France said its new flight path to Moscow started on Saturday and had been authorised for this weekend.

“We … are awaiting a green light from Russian authorities for our flights after this weekend,” a spokesman said.

Air France, part of the Air France-KLM group, operates one or two flights a day between Paris and Moscow.

A spokeswoman for Lufthansa, Germany’s biggest airline, said it had been given approval for the new routes on its flights from Frankfurt to Moscow and St Petersburg for the foreseeable future.

Lufthansa currently operates four return flights from Frankfurt to Moscow and three return flights from Frankfurt to St Petersburg per week. (Reporting by Polina Ivanova in Moscow, Matthias Blamont in Paris and Kirsti Knolle in Berlin. Editing by David Holmes and Mark Potter)

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