Airlines avoiding Ukrainian airspace after Malaysia Airlines crash
Several international airlines said Thursday that they were rerouting flights around eastern Ukrainian airspace after a Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 298 people crashed near the city of Donetsk.
Russian and Ukrainian media reported the plane may have been shot down, and an advisor to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said the Boeing 777 was downed by a ground-to-air missile over territory controlled by pro-Russia separatists.
At least five airlines -- Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France, Turkish Airlines and Russian airline Transaero -- said they would avoid airspace over eastern Ukraine in the wake of the incident.
Real-time flight movements, as tracked by FlightRadar24.com, showed a void in flight patterns over the region.
In April, European and American aviation officials warned commercial airlines about the risks of flying over Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in the midst of disputes between Ukraine and Russia, which annexed the peninsula. The European Aviation Safety Agency published an advisory highlighting the possibility of “serious risks to the safety of international civil flights” due to air traffic control disputes in the area.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a similar advisory later that month, amid concerns of unrest in the region. In statements Thursday, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the FAA noted that the Malaysia Airlines jet had crashed outside the areas covered in their advisories.
The FAA added that all U.S. airlines had voluntarily agreed to avoid airspace near the Russia-Ukraine border after the crash.
In a statement, Air France said its planes had not been flying over Crimea since April 3. The company said it was monitoring the situation “in real time” and has decided not to fly its planes over eastern Ukraine.
A spokeswoman for German airline Lufthansa said that although Ukrainian airspace had not been restricted, the company had decided to fly a “wide detour” around the region, effective immediately. “The safety of our passengers is our top priority,” airline spokeswoman Christina Semmel said.
Lufthansa said four flights were affected Thursday and that the change would not affect its routes to Kiev or Odessa.
In a recorded message, a British Airways spokeswoman said the airline’s flights were not using Ukrainian airspace, with the exception of its once-daily service between London’s Heathrow airport and Kiev. It said the airline was keeping its service “under review” but noted that Kiev was several hundred miles from the crash site.
For more breaking news, follow @cmaiduc on Twitter.
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get all the day's most vital news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.