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Airlines divert flights away from eastern Ukraine

Bishkek (AKIpress) - Malaysia flight European flight safety body Eurocontrol says Ukrainian authorities have closed the airspace in the east of the country to all airline flights, reports BBC.

It said all flight plans that use routes in the area are being rejected.

It follows the crash of Malaysian airliner flight MH17 with 298 people on board, amid claims it was shot down.

Flights already airborne are being routed around the area by air traffic control in the region, a Department for Transport spokesperson said.

The European Cockpit Association (ECA), which represents more than 38,000 European pilots, said the route flown by the crashed Malaysian aircraft was "the most common route for flights from Europe to South East Asia."

Airline Emirates said its flight EK171 from Dubai to Kiev had returned to Dubai "due to the safety concerns raised with the latest reports on Malaysian flight MH17". It added that its flights to Kiev were suspended "with immediate effect, till further notice".

German airline Lufthansa said it had decided to "fly a wide detour around east Ukrainian airspace with immediate effect".

Similarly, Virgin Atlantic On Thursday had rerouted "a small number" of its flights.

British Airways said its flights did not use Ukrainian airspace, with the exception of a once-a-day service between Heathrow and Kiev.

South Korea's two major airlines - Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines - said that they had stopped flying over Ukraine air space since 3 March because of security concerns.

Dutch carrier KLM said that as a precautionary measure it already avoided flying over the concerned territory.

And Russian airline Aeroflot said its London to Moscow flights would experience a delay of 30 to 40 minutes on Thursday.

Turkish Airlines has said all of its flights would avoid Ukrainian airspace, while Italy's Alitalia and Air France said they would divert their flights away from eastern Ukrainian airspace.

Air Astana changed the route of its flights to Amsterdam to avoid air space of Ukraine. The flights to Kiev were canceled until further notice.


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