ATI and Best Western

Published on Monday, July 21, 2014

Malaysia Airlines defends decision to fly over war zone

Malaysia Airlines has defended its decision to fly across Ukrainian air space, saying MH17's flight plan was approved by Eurocontrol.

In a statement released today, it said the route over where the disaster happened is commonly used for flights from Europe to Asia.

"A flight from a different carrier was on the same route at the time of the MH17 incident, as were a number of other flights from other carriers in the days and weeks before," it said.

"Eurocontrol maintains records of all flights across European airspace, including those across Ukraine."

It said in April, the International Civil Aviation Organisation identified an area over the Crimean peninsula as risky.

"At no point did MH17 fly into, or request to fly into, this area. At all times, MH17 was in airspace approved by the ICAO," it said.

It went on to explain that MH17 had filed a flight plan requesting to fly at 35,000ft throughout Ukrainian airspace, close to the 'optimum' altitude.

"However, an aircraft's altitude in flight is determined by air traffic control on the ground. Upon entering Ukrainian airspace, MH17 was instructed by Ukrainian air traffic control to fly at 33,000ft," it added.

Malaysia Airlines said it now avoids Ukrainian airspace entirely, flying further south over Turkey.

* Malaysia Airlines is offering refunds to passengers wanting to postpone or cancel their tickets following the MH17 disaster.

This is restricted to travel up until December 31, 2014 and applications have to be made by Thursday, July 24th.

"In light of the MH17 incident, Malaysia Airlines will be waiving any change fees for passengers who wish to make changes to their itinerary to any MH destinations," it said in a statement.

"Passengers who wish to postpone or cancel their travel plans can obtain a refund, including for non refundable tickets.

"Passengers who wish to make changes to their travel plans may contact the nearest Malaysia Airlines ticketing office, or call our Call Center at 1-300-88-3000 (in Malaysia) or +603 7843 3000 (outside Malaysia).

"Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets the loss of MH17, and is very much appreciative of the support from our passengers."

The airline has also retired its MH17 flight number out of respect for its crew and passengers which will take into effect on Friday, July 25 2014.

The new flight number replacing MH17 will be MH19.


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