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Why was MH17 flying over Ukrainian airspace?

The Malaysian airliner apparently shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine was flying over airspace that a number of other Asian carriers abandoned months ago because of security concerns.

South Korea’s two main airlines, Korean Air and Asiana, as well as Australia’s Qantas and Taiwan’s China Airlines said they had all rerouted flights from as early as the beginning of March when Russian troops moved into Crimea.

Quizzed as to why Malaysia Airlines had not taken similar precautions, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said international air authorities had deemed the flight path secure.

“The aircraft’s flight route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organization. And (the) International Air Transportation Association has stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions,” he said.

Re-routing would have involved a longer flight-time and therefore higher fuel costs.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board, in what the United States said was probably a ground-launched missile strike. 

Data from airline tracker Flightradar24 shows other commercial flights in the area at the time of the crash. A Singapore Airlines flight and an Air India flight were around 24 km away, according to the data.

Singapore Airlines said in a statement that it had been using Ukrainian airspace but had “re-routed all our flights” to alternative corridors away from the region.

Source: AFP

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