Airlines have been told to avoid Belarusian airspace following the forced diversion of a Ryanair flight on Sunday.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has also stopped Belarus’s national airline, Belavia, from operating its flights from Gatwick to the country’s capital Minsk along with charter carriers from the country.
In a Tweet, Shapps said: “Following the forced diversion of a Ryanair aircraft to Minsk yesterday, I’ve instructed the UK CAA to request airlines avoid Belarusian airspace in order to keep passengers safe. I have also suspended Belavia’s operating permit.”
The Ryanair flight from Athens to Lithuania’s capital Vilnius was forced to divert to Minsk under fighter jet escort after a bomb alert. No device was found.
When the flight landed, Belarusian journalist and opposition activist Roman Protasevich was detained together with his girlfriend.
It was reported four Russians, believed to be from the country’s intelligence services, left the flight of their own accord in Minsk.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary described the incident as "state-sponsored hijacking", adding "we believe there were some KGB agents offloaded at the airport as well".
Flight maps are showing airlines now making diversions via Poland or Russia.
A CAA spokesperson said: “Following the UK government’s decision, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has suspended all foreign carrier permits held by Belarusian air carriers until further notice.
"This suspension applies to both scheduled operators, including the Belarusian airline Belavia, as well as chartered air carriers.
“The CAA has also issued a notice to all UK-registered airlines requesting that they avoid overflight of any territory of the Republic of Belarus.”