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Ryanair’s Minsk Case — And What it Means for Airlines and Passengers

The unexpected diversion of a Ryanair flight to Minsk shocked the aviation world. Naturally, we don't want to add to political discussions. However, we've analyzed the incident about airline and passenger aspects.

Ryanair’s Minsk Diversion — An Unexpected Case

We’ve all probably heard the news about the incident regarding flight FR4978 on Sunday, May 23rd, from the airline Ryanair. Unfortunately, the flight whose original destination was from Athens (ATH) to Vilnius (VNO) had an unexpected diversion to Minsk (MSQ) for reasons that are not yet entirely clarified. In this case, we will not discuss the possible explanations of the incident, but we will focus on the airlines’ and airports’ impact following the event. 

As we probably have seen on the news, many governments and airlines have decided to cancel all flights flying to Belarus or not passing through the airspace. Once again, situations like a political crisis, if we could call it like this, require data availability to improve decision-making quickly, either for airlines or passengers to reconsider their travel plans. 


Spotlight on Minsk Airport Arrivals

To understand the impact of situations like the diverted Ryanair flight on the operations, we have decided to track the operations from and to Minsk Airport from Thursday, May 20th, three days before the incident, until Friday, May 28th, five days after the incident.

The first evaluation focused on flight arrivals. We have tracked with a public source the following flight status: scheduled, arrived, canceled, diverted, and unknown. Unknown means the flights have insufficient data and, therefore, for our analysis, is assumed as not operated. Based on this data, we have obtained the following KPIs:

  • Actual Arrivals Rate: Percentage of arrived flights from all scheduled flights to arrive at Minsk Airport. 
  • Canceled Arrivals Rate: Percentage of canceled arrival flights from all scheduled arrivals.
  • Diverted Arrival Rate: Percentage of all diverted flights from all scheduled arrivals.
Arrival Minsk Airport

Ryanair’s Incident Led To 50% Cancellation Rate At Minsk Airport

As we can see after the media communicated the incident as a political situation, the day following the incident, we see an increase in the cancellation rate for scheduled arrivals of almost 50% to Minsk. The drastic and fast change in the operation is crucial information for both airlines and passengers. Based on the data, the decisions can affect their travel plans and scheduled plans in a considerably short period. Therefore, having knowledge in real-time regarding their desired airport or airline can help improve decision-making in cases like this one.  

We performed the same analysis for departures at Minsk Airport, and the situation was not significantly different with arrivals. For flight departures, we can even see that on May 28th, even the cancellation rate exceeds the actual departure rate, which can mean many passengers are highly affected by the operation. 

The KPIs evaluated are the following:

  • Actual Departures Rate: Percentage of actual departed flights from all scheduled flights to arrive at Minsk Airport. 
  • Canceled Departures Rate: Percentage of canceled departure flights from all scheduled departures.
  • Diverted Departures Rate: Percentage of all diverted flights from all scheduled departures.
Minsk Airport Departures

Additional KPIs to Consider

Once again, the relevance of having access to real-time information can facilitate the possibility for passengers to look for alternatives or re-schedule their travel plans as soon as the situation has improved. In addition, passengers can also use other additional KPIs we have recommended before in one of our posts to be aware of their travel plans’ current situation. 

  • Restricted Destinations: Which are the destinations restricted based on the new situation? Based on this KPI, passengers might decide if they fly to an alternative airport close to their original destination or if the entire region is restricted. Therefore, their only solution is to cancel or postpone their travel plans. 
  • Impacted Flights: How many flights are affected by the situation? Is there any chance that the only flight involved is what they had in mind for their journey? Maybe taking another possible flight can be the solution? 
  • Rerouting: In case passengers must fly for a specific reason such as a meeting or event and the flights are rerouted, this might imply a longer flight duration, which can alter their original schedule. Therefore, it’s also necessary to see the best alternatives that the original plans are not highly affected by the desired airline or destination airport operation changes.  

Indicators Airlines Should Have A Close Eye On

In the case of airlines, it is crucial to track the following KPIs based on the situation:

  • Rebooking: How many daily rebooked passengers. 
  • Impacted Passengers: How many passengers have been affected daily due to the current situation.

Currently, this situation is affecting the operation, especially for the European Airspace. Many airlines have decided not to fly over Belarus territory and cancel their flights from government decisions until the situation is clarified. Because of air travel uncertainty for passengers, they expect to have as much information regarding their travel plans and the money paid for the tickets. The Belarus airspace and operations situation is one more unfortunate incident for the aviation industry that proves the relevance of data available for the companies and the customers. 

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Benjamin Walther

CEO, Frankfurt

Benjamin is Information Design's CEO and a proven content-maniac. Besides running a successful business and developing pioneering ideas, he's dedicated to writing blog posts and creating content.

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