After MH17 horror, Malaysia Airlines MH4 jet now flies over war torn Syrian airspace

Written by Reuters | Kuala Lumpur | Updated: Jul 21 2014, 22:14pm hrs
Malaysia Airlines MH17People walk next to a refrigerated train loaded with the bodies of victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, in Torez, Ukraine. AP
Malaysia Airlines re-routed a Kuala Lumpur-to-London flight over Syrian airspace on Sunday after its usual route over Ukraine was closed, flight tracking data showed on Monday.

Flightradar24 posted a flight map on its Twitter account on Monday showing the change in the flight's route. Flight tracking data showed this flight had previously crossed over eastern Ukraine.

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, Malaysia Airlines MH4, had taken a different route over eastern Turkey, tracking data showed.

The change in route on Sunday 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 U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, whose regulations are among the world's strictest, "strongly discourages" U.S. 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.