Avoiding Ukraine, MAS plane flies over Syria instead, says Flightradar 24

FlightRadar 24's flight tracking data shows Malaysia Airlines flight MH4 flying over Syria. — Picture by FlightRadar24
FlightRadar 24's flight tracking data shows Malaysia Airlines flight MH4 flying over Syria. — Picture by FlightRadar24

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — Malaysia Airlines re-routed a Kuala Lumpur-to-London flight over Syrian airspace yesterday after its usual route over Ukraine was closed, flight tracking data showed today.

Flightradar24 posted a flight map on its Twitter account today showing the change in the flight’s route. Flight tracking data showed this flight had previously crossed over eastern Ukraine. (To view the link: bit.ly/1wPJDUr)

After Malaysia Airlines’ Flight MH17 was shot down last Thursday by a ground-to-air missile in eastern Ukraine, airlines began to avoid the airspace below which the Ukrainian military has been fighting with Russian-backed rebels.

On Friday and Saturday the Kuala Lumpur-London flight, MH4, had taken a different route over eastern Turkey, tracking data showed.

The change in route yesterday highlights the challenge that airlines face in finding conflict-free passageways on the congested routes between Asia and Europe. Hundreds of flights routinely crossed over Ukraine before Thursday’s incident, and it is not unusual for international airlines to overfly war zones such as Syria or Afghanistan.

The US Federal Aviation Administration, whose regulations are among the world’s strictest, “strongly discourages” US operators from flying to, from or over Syria, according to a May 2013 notice on its website.

A spokesperson for Malaysia Airlines did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment. — Reuters

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