Belarusian Transport Ministry publishes transcript of conversation between Ryanair pilot and Minsk dispatcher
The Belarusian Transport Ministry has published a transcript of part of the conversation between the Belarusian dispatcher and the crew of the Ryanair plane that was forced to land in Minsk on May 23.
According to the document, at 9:30 a.m. local time on Sunday, May 23, a dispatcher from the Minsk airport informed the Ryanair pilot that according to “information from [the] special services” there was a bomb on board the plane that could be detonated over Vilnius.
The dispatcher goes on to say that “several airports” received the email about the alleged bomb and advises the pilot to divert to Minsk for an emergency landing for “security reasons.”
The pilot then asks whether the recommendation to land in Minsk came from Ryanair, the “departure airport authorities” (Athens), or the “arrival airport authorities” (Vilnius). “This is our recommendation,” the dispatcher replies.
The transcript ends at 9:57 a.m., after the pilot and the dispatcher discuss the technical parameters for landing.
On May 23, a Ryanair passenger flight travelling from Athens to Vilnius was forced to make an emergency landing at the Minsk National Airport. This took place following reports from the Belarusian authorities of a bomb threat on board the flight (this later proved false). Belarus sent an MiG-29 fighter jet to escort the passenger plane to Minsk.
After the landing, the Belarusian authorities detained two passengers from the plane — Belarusian opposition journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega, who is a Russian citizen. The remaining passengers from the flight were allowed to continue their journey to Vilnius after a seven-hour delay. Many European countries believe the Belarusian authorities hijacked the passenger plane in order to arrest Protasevich.