Flights over Ukraine war zone increased before MH17

In contrast to the belief that many airlines avoided the airspace over eastern Ukraine in the months before the MH17 disaster due to the conflict between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists, flights over the area actually increased in that time.

This is according to NOS, based on an analysis of the website flightradar24.com. In February and March 2014 an average of about a hundred planes flew over the conflict area. In April this rose to an average of 155 planes, and in the following months the average remained higher than in the beginning of the year.

Several airlines, including the German Condor and British Airways, decided to avoid the region in the course of the spring. But on balance, the number of flights over the conflict area increased from an average of 33 per day in February and March to 36 in the following months.

According to the newspaper, this can partly be attributed to the the airspace over the Crimea, south of eastern Ukraine, being closed on April 3rd. This led to airlines having to choose a different route. Many airlines chose a detour to the north of Crimea - right over the war zone in Ukraine.

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