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Air India, Jet Airways stop using Ukrainian airspace

Indian carriers Air India and Jet Airways will immediately change their flight paths to avoid the conflict zone of Ukraine

Indian carriers Air India and Jet Airways have stopped using the Ukrainian airspace following the shooting down of Malaysian Airline's flight MH17 that claimed 298 lives.

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has asked all Indian airlines not to fly over Ukraine.

All 298 people on board the plane were killed yesterday after the jet was shot down by "terrorists" using a surface- to-air missile over war-torn eastern Ukraine near the Russian border.

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had yesterday issued instructions to Air India and Jet Airways, the only Indian carriers that fly to Europe and North America, to avoid Ukrainian airspace while flying to and from destinations in both the continents.

The minister said, "We have to be safe with our citizens... Our citizens are our concern. India has alerted its own airlines Jet or Air India and they are avoiding Ukraine as of now. We are happy with the information that we have got that no Indian citizen's life has been lost."

An Air India official said though they had stopped overflying Ukraine since the conflict escalated three months ago, they would also go by the latest DGCA advisory "to avoid airspace over conflict zone like Ukraine".

Ukraine airspace is among the busiest as flights connecting Europe and Asia transit through this region.

Jet Airways too said it was not operating its flights through the Ukrainian airspace ever since the conflict began in the region. "Jet Airways would like to assure its guests that none of our flights to and from Europe flew through the Ukrainian airspace ever since the conflict began... We continue to avoid the Ukrainian airspace in the prime interest of the safety of our guests," Jet said.

The normal route of Indian flights from New Delhi and Mumbai to major west European cities like London, Paris and Frankfurt fly over the Ukrainian airspace.There are several routes to go to the US and Europe, though this is considered to be the shortest and hence one of the busiest flight paths.

The diversion caused by the DGCA and other global advisories is likely to increase the costs for airlines operating on this route, including those from India, due to the use of more fuel and higher insurance cover, aviation industry sources said. 

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