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Vietnam Airlines says all EU flights will avoid Ukraine warzone

Vietnam Airlines says all EU flights will avoid Ukraine warzone

Saturday, July 19, 2014, 14:07 GMT+7

All of Vietnam Airlines’ flights to Europe have been rerouted to avoid flying over war-torn Ukraine, where a Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down on Thursday, a company spokesperson said Friday.

The flag carrier is offering 22 flights a week connecting Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi with London, Frankfurt, and Paris, all of which will be flying a new route that passes Belarus airspace starting Friday, Le Truong Giang told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

Vietnam Airlines rerouted these services as early as March 2014, when violence erupted in Ukraine, but switched back to its traditional route when tension deescalated, Giang said.

But shortly after the tragic crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, Vietnam Airlines had to reroute its European flights again.

“Vietnam Airlines is completing procedures to completely avoid passing through Ukraine’s airspace and will fly over other countries including Turkey, Bulgaria, and Hungary,” Giang said.

“This is to ensure complete safety for Vietnam Airlines flights.”

Four Vietnam Airlines flights bound for Europe were canceled late Thursday in the wake of the MH17 crash. The flights eventually departed early the following day, three to five hours behind schedule.

The Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 took off from Schiphol airport in Amsterdam shortly after noon on Thursday and was scheduled to land in Kuala Lumpur at around 6:10 am Friday local time, according to AFP.

Air traffic control lost contact with the Boeing 777-400 carrying 298 people onboard around 14:15 (12:15 GMT) near the Russian-Ukrainian border, Malaysia Airlines has said in a statement.

The airway the Malaysia Airlines flight chose to fly between Kuala Lumpur and Europe is the shortest and most economical way, yet is quite dangerous as it passes through the warzone in Ukraine, a Vietnam Airlines captain, who is on frequent duty to Europe, told Tuoi Tre.

He also said that it is unlikely for a civil flight to be mistaken for a military plane as the pilots and air traffic controllers have to make frequent contact with each other, while flight information is displayed clearly on the radar.

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