Malaysia Airlines flight flies over war-torn Syria to avoid Ukrainian airspace

According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the airspace above Syria is not prohibited

A Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to London was rerouted to fly over Syria on Sunday, as an alternative to using the same route taken by the MH17 plane downed while flying through Ukranian airspace last week.

Flight MH004 flew over the war-torn Middle Eastern state following a path recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) as an alternative route to the one over the Ukraine which has now been largely been prohibited by the majority of aviation authorities.

Malaysia Airlines has come under a raft of criticism for deciding to choose the route, with many on social media questioning the decision.

Nevertheless, Malaysia Airlines has defended its position saying that the airspace above Syria was not regarded as a no-fly zone.

In a reaction to the criticism, the company said: "As per the notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued by the Syrian Civil Aviation Authority, the Syrian airspace was not subject to restrictions.

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"At all times, MH004 was in airspace approved by ICAO.”

Despite Syria currently being in the midst of a civil war that has lasted over three years, according to ICAO flight paths over the country are regarded as perfectly safe, with a number of airlines using the route now that flying over eastern Ukraine is now outlawed.

However, some aviation authorities such as the US Federal Aviation Administration strongly advises against American aircraft taking the route.

Despite the aviation authorities' warnings against flying over eastern Ukraine, the flight tracking website flightradar24 found that two planes had flown close to where MH17 was downed just days after its 298 passengers were killed.

From the data taken from flightradar24, it was found that one Singapore Airlines flight had flown just 15 miles away from where MH17 was hit and one Virgin flight from Delhi to London had travelled within 140 miles of the where the plane crashed.

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