Thursday 12 December 2019

Did Malaysian airlines dice with danger? Four major Asian airlines halted flights over Ukraine ‘months ago’

Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

AS the investigations into the downing of flight H17 continue, pressure is continuing to mount on Malaysain Airlines to explain why it routed its planes over a war zone.

It is being reported this morning that four of Asia’s major airlines had stopped flying over Ukraine months ago over safety fears.

South Korea's two main airlines, Korean Air and Asiana, as well as Australia's Qantas and Taiwan's China Airlines have all re-routed flights over security fears.

The airlines have been diverting flights from Ukrainian airspace from as early as March this year.

"We stopped flying over Ukraine because of safety concerns," Asiana spokeswoman Lee Hyo-Min told AFP news agency.

Korean Air moved its flight paths 160 miles south of Ukraine from March "due to the political unrest in the region", an official for the carrier said.

Aviation safety authorities in America and Europe warned pilots in April about potential risks flying in or near Ukraine airspace.

The US Federal Aviation Administration issued a "special notice" regarding Ukrainian airspace advising airlines to "exercise extreme caution due to the continuing potential for instability" and Eurocontrol warned pilots and airlines to avoid Ukranian airspace due to serious risks.

Aviation experts last night said operators continued to fly across the zone because it was the quickest and cheapest route.

It is understood airliners continued to cross volatile regions because operators believed they were at a sufficient altitude not to be at risk of attack.

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