3 airlines avoiding Sinai peninsula

Debris belonging to the A321 Russian airliner are seen at the site of the crash in Wadi el-Zolmat, a mountainous area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Debris belonging to the A321 Russian airliner are seen at the site of the crash in Wadi el-Zolmat, a mountainous area in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. PHOTO: AFP

DUBAI • Three major airlines - Emirates, Lufthansa and Air France - have stopped flying over Egypt's Sinai peninsula after a Russian passenger plane went down in the area, killing all 224 people on board.

Emirates will avoid the Sinai peninsula until more information on the cause of the crash is available, the Dubai-based airline said in a statement yesterday, a day after Air France and Lufthansa said they would do the same.

Singapore Airlines does not fly over the Sinai peninsula.

Preliminary investigations indicate that the plane, an Airbus 321 operated by Russia's Metrojet, went down because of a technical problem, according to Egyptian officials.

Flight paths became an issue of public debate after a Malaysia Airlines jet went down in July last year in eastern Ukraine, an area which some airlines were already avoiding because of fighting there between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists.

A report by international investigators released last month said that a Russian- made surface-to-air missile launched from rebel-held territory brought down the plane.

"It makes sense now for airlines to display an abundance of caution," said aviation consultant Robert Mann.

Airlines propose their own flight routes, which have to be approved by the air traffic control authorities or air navigation services providers.

A Qatar Airways spokesman said there were no changes to Egyptian air space rules and therefore no changes in the airline's flight schedules.

A KLM spokesman said the airline had no flights scheduled in that area yesterday, adding that the airline would exercise caution in any future flights in the area.

A spokesman for British Airways would say only that it "would never operate a flight until it was safe to do so".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2015, with the headline '3 airlines avoiding Sinai peninsula'. Print Edition | Subscribe