Wizz Air to suspend Moldova flights, citing security
BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Airline Wizz Air said on Monday it would suspend flights to the Moldovan capital Chisinau from March 14 due to concerns about the safety of its airspace, a decision Moldova's civil aviation authority described as sudden and regrettable.
Wizz Air said in a statement it would lay on extra flights from the Romanian city of Iasi as replacements, including a new service to Berlin, and more flights to Barcelona, Milan Bergamo, Bologna, Rome Ciampino, Rome Fuimicino, Dortumand, Larnaca, London Luton and Treviso.
Flights to Budapest and Prague will not be replaced and those inbound to Chisinau will be reallocated to other destinations in the Wizz Air network, it said.
"Safety of the passengers and crew remain Wizz Air's number one priority and following the recent developments in Moldova and the elevated, but not imminent, risk in the country's airspace, Wizz Air has made the difficult but responsible decision to suspend all flights to Chisinau from the 14th of March," it said.
Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said on Wednesday that his country was prepared for a "full spectrum of threats", given fears Russia could intensify attempts to destabilise the country that is reeling from the war in neighbouring Ukraine.
Tensions between Russia and Moldova have grown in recent months as Russian missiles aimed at Ukraine have entered Moldovan airspace and authorities have blamed the Kremlin for fuelling anti-government protests, something it denies.
Moldova's civil aviation authority said Moldovan authorities had been informed by email of Wizz Air's decision, adding the airline had sought approval for its summer flight schedule on Feb. 14, and received it on Monday.
"After analysing the risks, government agencies have determined that flights in the national airspace can be carried out safely by following a number of procedures, and they regret Wizz Air's sudden decision," a post on the Moldovan government's official Telegram channel said.
It said the civil aviation authority and the ministry of infrastructure and regional development had been in "constant cooperation" with Wizz Air representatives and informed them of the procedures in place to ensure aviation security.
The aviation authority would take "all necessary actions" to return Wizz Air to Chisinau airport as soon as possible, and to attract other low-cost airlines.
(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs and Alexander Tanas, writing by Max Hunder and Elaine Monaghan. Editing by Jane Merriman and Barbara Lewis)