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Published: Friday July 18, 2014 MYT 9:25:02 AM
Updated: Friday July 18, 2014 MYT 9:26:57 AM

Australian, Korean airlines shifted Ukrainian flight routes months ago

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's Qantas Airways, Korea Air Lines Co Ltd and Asiana Airlines Inc said on Friday they shifted flights operating over Ukrainian air space months ago amid increasing tensions between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels.

The Australian flag carrier said it shifted the flight path for its London to Dubai route over Ukraine some 400 nautical miles to the south "several months ago."

A Qantas spokesman declined to comment on the reasons for the shift, but a spokeswoman at Asiana Airlines, which stopped flying over the area on March 3, cited intensifying geopolitical tensions. Korean Air Lines stopped flights at the same time.

A Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) plane was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board, in what the United States said was probably a ground-launched missile strike.

Data from airline tracker Flightradar24 shows other commercial flights in the area at the time of the crash. A Singapore Airlines flight and an Air India flight were around 24 kilometres (15 miles) away, according to the data.

(Reporting by Jane Wardell; Editing by Paul Tait and Stephen Coates)

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