|Founded||5 March 1996|
|Hubs||Minsk National Airport|
|Frequent-flyer program||Belavia Leader|
|Parent company||Government of Belarus|
|Key people||Igor Nikolaevich Cherginets, Director-general|
Belavia (formally Belavia Belarusian Airlines, Belarusian: ААТ «Авіякампанія «Белавія»; Russian: ОАО «Авиакомпания «Белавиа»), is the flag carrier and national airline of Belarus, headquartered in Minsk. The state-owned company had, as of 2007, 1,017 employees. Belavia serves a network of routes between Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as some Middle East destinations from its base at Minsk National Airport. Following the Ryanair Flight 4978 incident on 23 May 2021, the airline has been banned from the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Ukraine and Serbia.
On 7 November 1933, the first Belarusian air terminal opened in Minsk. In the next spring, 3 Po-2 aircraft landed in Minsk. They became the first aircraft of the Belarusian air fleet. In 1936 the first regular air route between Minsk and Moscow was established. In the summer of 1940, the Belarusian civil aviation group was officially founded.
In 1964, the Tupolev Tu-124 aircraft received Belarusian registration. In 1973, the then-new Tupolev Tu-134A began operating in Belarus. In 1983 Belarusian aviation started flying the new Tupolev Tu-154 planes.
The airline was officially founded on 5 March 1996 following a resolution of the Belarusian Government "On the restructuring of air transport of the Republic, Belarus", when the local Aeroflot division was nationalized and renamed. Between then and 1998 Belavia opened regular routes to Beijing, Istanbul, Larnaca, London, Prague, and Rome. In 1998, Belavia merged with MinskAvia, acquiring several Antonov An-24, Antonov An-26 and Yakovlev Yak-40 aircraft in addition to existing fleet of Tupolev Tu-134 and Tupolev Tu-154 airplanes.
Development since the 2000s
On 18 May 2001, Belavia commenced a Minsk-Paris scheduled service with Tu-134s and Tu-154s.
In 2003 Belavia started publishing an in-flight magazine Horizons in English, Russian and Belarusian. On 16 October 2003, Belavia signed a leasing agreement for its first Boeing 737-500 aircraft. In 2004, Belavia further extended operations and acquired one more Boeing 737. On 26 June 2004 Belavia opened a new route to Hanover, Germany. 2011 saw the introduction of a new route between Minsk and Helsinki, Finland.
Between 2003 and 2009, the airline has seen its passenger numbers double and in 2009 handled just under 700,000 customers.
Three leased Bombardier CRJ 100 aircraft were introduced on regional services from Minsk. The first one was delivered in February 2007, with the other two later in 2007. They directly replaced the aging Antonov An-24 and Tupolev Tu-134 aircraft. It was looking to lease two Bombardier CRJ-700s in 2010. Belavia had also planned to retire its remaining Tupolev Tu-154Ms by 2011 following the retirement of its last Tupolev Tu-134 in summer 2009 which was replaced by an ex-FlyLAL Boeing 737-500. On 27 June 2014, an order was announced for three Boeing 737-800 aircraft to be acquired directly by Belavia. The first of these was delivered in August 2016.
In August 2016, Belavia received their first aircraft with their new livery. This is the first re-branding since the company's founding in 1996 on its 20 years anniversary. The new livery was applied a brand new Boeing 737-800. The much newer 737s replaced the aging Tupolev Tu-154s. On 1 October 2016, Belavia retired their two remaining Tupolev Tu-154s from scheduled services as one of the last airlines worldwide to do so.
In 2019, the company employed nearly 1,900 people, and generated a turnover of 374 million euros with an operating result of 49 million euros. During this year it carried almost 4 million passengers, an increase of more than 15% compared to the 2018 figure.
On 24 May 2021, the British government suspended Belavia’s operating permit in response to the Ryanair Flight 4978 incident. The European Union and Ukraine subsequently banned Belarusian airliners from entering their airspace or using their airports, effectively banning Belavia which led to the suspension of vast parts of their route network.
Also in 2021, Belavia was accused of orchestrating the influx of illegal migrants during 2021 Belarus–European Union border crisis. In September 2021 it has been reported that Belavia might face to lose the majority of its current fleet as its lessors might be no longer allowed to lease them out to Belarussian airlines as part of new embargos. At this point Belavia owned 18 smaller, older aircraft, but had rented several modern jets from western companies, with the irish AerCap with 6 and the Denmark based Nordic Aviation Capital with 7 aircraft being the most important suppliers. On 16 November, the European Union confirmed the termination of all aircraft leases to Belarus by European lessors which forces the airline to return half of their current fleet on short notice.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Belavia operated flights to Asia, Europe, and Africa from its base at Minsk National Airport. In addition to scheduled destinations listed here, Belavia operates charter flights to leisure destinations and VIP charters. On the eve of the Ryanair Flight 4978 forced takedown incident, it served one domestic destination and 54 international destinations in 32 countries. As a result of the subsequent ban on Belarusian airliners entering the EU, UK and Ukrainian airspace, the airline is effectively stripped off all but twenty of these destinations: owing to the geographical constraints, access to Chișinău, Moldova and Belgrade, Serbia has become de facto impossible, despite these two non-EU member states not having issued any independent travel bans on Belavia. On 28 May 2021, the airline confirmed the cancellation of flights that would otherwise be forced to pass through restricted airspace as well as their ongoing efforts to reroute the Istanbul, Turkey connection, up to this point handled using a straight route over Ukraine, Moldova, Romania as well as Bulgaria's territorial waters.
|Boeing 737-300||3||—||—||148||148||Leased aircraft to be returned.|
|Boeing 737-800||5||—||—||189||189||1 stored|
|Boeing 737 MAX 8||1||—||12||162||174||stored|
|Embraer 175||5||—||12||64||76||4 leased aircraft to be returned; 4 stored|
|Embraer 195||7||—||11||96||107||3 leased aircraft to be returned; 3 stored|
|Embraer 195-E2||3||—||9||116||125||All transferred to storage in Kazakhstan.|
|Antonov An-24||Acquired in 1998 from MinskAvia|
|Antonov An-26||Acquired in 1998 from MinskAvia|
|Boeing 737-500||retired in 2021|
|Ilyushin Il-86||EW-86062, ex СССР-86062, then RA-86062 to Atlant-Soyuz Airlines;|
Was used in 1994 to 1996 on charter routes to China and United States.
|Tupolev Tu-154B||One used as training mock-up|
|Tupolev Tu-154-B2||6 scrapped, 9 stored at MSQ; One used as training mock-up|
|Yakovlev Yak-40||Acquired in 1998 from MinskAvia|
Incidents and accidents
- On 6 January 2003, a Yakovlev Yak-40 suffered a shattered windshield during flight, en route to Prague. Two Czech Air Force fighters accompanied the plane to a safe landing in Ruzyně International Airport.
- On 14 February 2008, Belavia Flight 1834, a Bombardier CRJ100ER en route from Yerevan, Armenia, to Minsk, hit its left wing on the runway during takeoff from Zvartnots International Airport, subsequently crashing on the ground, flipping over and coming to a stop inverted near the runway. All 18 passengers and 3 crew members managed to escape the aircraft before it erupted into flames, partly due to the timely response of the fire and rescue crew at the airport. The main cause of the crash was icing contamination leading to a stall of the left wing.
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- "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 27 March 2007. pp. 84–85.
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- Airliner World, February 2007
- http://www.belta.by/en/news/econom?id=474506[permanent dead link]
- "Another NG for Belavia". Airliner World (October 2016): 8.
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- "2019 Belavia Annual Report" (PDF). balavia.by. 19 March 2020.
- Бывшая сотрудница «Белавиа»: «В Жодинском ИВС нас называли проститутками и террористами»
- "UK's Raab says Lukashenko must be held to account for jet incident". Reuters. 24 May 2021. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
- "EU imposes new economic sanctions on Belarus over 'hijacked' flight". the Guardian. 25 May 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
- Reuters Staff (25 May 2021). "Ukrainian airlines not allowed to transit through Belarus airspace - minister". Reuters. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
- Naomi O’Leary (18 October 2021). "Irish leasing firms under pressure over alleged use of aircraft to traffic migrants". The Irish Times. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
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- aerotelegraph.com (German) 16 November 2021
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- "Flights to Larnaca, Belgrade, Budapest and Kishinev are suspended, flights to Istanbul is operated with an amended route". Belavia News. 28 May 2021. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
- "Belavia Partners". Belavia. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
- "AZAL and Belavia signed a codeshare agreement on Baku-Minsk route". Azerbaijan Airlines (in French). Retrieved 22 October 2018.
- "Aircraft Fleet". en.belavia.by. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
- planespotters.net - Belavia retrieved 1 December 2021
- ch-aviation.com - Lithuania pushes for EU ban on Belavia leases 31 August 2021
- ch-aviation.com - Belarus’s Belavia stores its E195-E2s in Kazakhstan 29 October 2021
- "БЕЛАВИА - Национальная авиакомпания Республики Беларусь - История компании". Belavia.by. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- Gerard Helmer (9 September 1994). "Photos: Ilyushin Il-86 Aircraft Pictures". Airliners.net.
- "ММЗ им. С. В. Ильюшина Ил-86". Abaza.ilisso.ru. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- "Forumavia.ru - Ил-86 EW-86062 Belavia". www.forumavia.ru.
- "Штурм самолета, нейтрализация "террористов" и освобождение "заложников" | Фоторепортаж | Новости Беларуси | Последние новости | Онлайн новости | Мировые новости | БелТА". Belta.by. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- Pravda Canopy of Belarusian Yak-40 burst in air Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Published 6 January 2003.
- Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK) (4 June 2009). "Final Report of Belavia Flight 1834" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 September 2011.
Media related to Belavia at Wikimedia Commons