(Adds Austrian Foreign Ministry statement, detail)
FRANKFURT, May 27 (Reuters) - Lufthansa’s Austrian Airlines said on Thursday it had to cancel a flight to Moscow from Vienna after not getting permission from Russian authorities for an alternative route following the suspension of flights through Belarusian airspace.
The move is the latest fallout from what Western nations have called hijacking and piracy by Russia’s ally Belarus on Sunday, which forced a Lithuania-bound Ryanair flight from Greece to land in Minsk, where a Belarusian dissident journalist on board was arrested.
In response, the European Union has urged its airlines to avoid Belarus and its airspace, but Russia has reacted by denying such carriers permission to fly to Russia, as with a Paris-Moscow Air France flight that was cancelled on Wednesday.
“The Russian reaction is absolutely incomprehensible to us,” Austria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Russia’s denial of permission for the Austrian flight, adding that it was a disproportionate response to measures taken after Sunday’s “brutal act of air piracy”.
“The Austrian Foreign Ministry communicated this to the Russian ambassador today. The Austrian ambassador in Moscow also presented this position to Russia,” it said, calling on Moscow to clarify its position and adding that all flights over and to Russia should be able to continue without problems. (Reporting by Laurence Frost and Gleb Stolyarov Additional reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna Writing by Christoph Steitz and Francois Murphy Editing by Emma Thomasson, William Maclean)