Hungary Allows Russian Airliner To Land Despite EU Ban (Worthy News Investigation)

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent reporting from Budapest, Hungary

BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Hungary’s government which maintains close ties with Moscow, has admitted it taunted European Union sanctions by allowing a Russian aircraft to land in Budapest for “humanitarian reasons.”

The Airbus A321 operated by Russia’s airline Aeroflot left Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport early Friday and landed at Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport, according to radar data seen by Worthy News.

Data on the Flight Radar 24 monitoring service showed the aircraft registered as VP-BKJ had traveled for 2 hours and 31 minutes, covering the nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) between the two hubs.

However, the flight to Hungary’s capital was controversial as the 27-nation EU, including Hungary, banned all Russian-owned planes from its airspace last Monday. Moscow responded by canceling all its flights to the bloc and banning all EU flights from entering Russia.

Yet in a published reaction, the Hungarian Ministry of Innovation and Technology defended Hungary’s permission for the Aeroflot flight saying it was to “repatriate” Russians.

Although EU member states banned Russian aircraft from their airspace, they may “grant a narrow exemption from the ban for humanitarian flights,” it claimed.


The permit can be given “for example in emergencies, if the purpose of the flight so warrants,” the ministry explained.

“The so-called repatriation flight passed through the airspace of two other EU member states. Besides Hungary, the exemption was similarly granted by the Polish and Slovak authorities,” as it flew over their airspace, the ministry added. The flight also crossed non-EU member state Belarus, Russia’s ally, radar data showed.

Aeroflot said, “only Russian citizens who have a return ticket for any Russian airline whose section to Europe has already been used could board the flight to Moscow [from Budapest].”

Separately Russian citizens were reportedly returning home to Russia via transit in Istanbul on Turkish Airlines flights. The Turkish carrier significantly increased its Budapest flights in recent days.

Russian and Hungarian sources also say there have been repatriation flights to Hungary for third-country nationals who fled wartorn Ukraine to Hungary, primarily Indian students.

Thousands of foreign nationals, including also Israeli citizens, were repatriated from Ukraine by or with permission of Hungary, officials added.


Yet the Aeroflot flight to Budapest raised more questions about what critics view as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s cozy relationship with Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin.

Speaking in Moscow at a joint news conference in early February, Orbán proudly noted that they had worked together for the last 13 years on energy and other commercial deals.

Orbán stressed that he and Putin “have the longest memory of the European Union and Russia’s leadership.”

Their close links became apparent during the coronavirus pandemic when Hungary was the first EU nation to buy a Russian-made COVID vaccine — even though European regulators didn’t approve it.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Orbán reluctantly signed up to EU sanctions, but he halted the delivery of weapons to neighboring Ukraine.

Orbán, who faces tough parliamentary elections next month, condemned the “leftist opposition” for suggesting to commit weapons and even troops to Ukraine.

Many Hungarians sympathize with the neighboring nation as they still recall their 1956 Hungarian Revolution against Soviet Union domination, which was crushed by Russian forces.

More than a million people have already fled the raging battles in Ukraine, including to neighboring Hungary, according to United Nations estimates.

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