I’m still a little bit shocked at the way things played out last week in the air, and realising I won’t have a different point of view to offer, I restrained myself from pouring out on the tragedy that happened over the Ukrainian airspace last week.
However, one of the things on my mind has been the reactions that have been made by other airlines to assuage their customers about the situation. Many an airlines went about clarifying that they did not fly over the Ukrainian airspace for a while, but lets stick to the situation closer home.
The Government of India issued a statement a couple of days ago about India’s airlines not flying around Ukraine. In the same statement, they mentioned
The Ministry would like to mention there was no Air India flight near the ill-fated Malaysian plane at the time of the incident.
Here is a snapshot from the Press Information Bureau website, just in case it gets deleted later.
I don’t know what degree of pulling the wool over my eyes would be acceptable, but this is totally not true. Air India 113, an Amritsar – Delhi – Birmingham service, passed the same ill-fated spot, as the government likes to call it, and as per Flightradar24, was only about 25 kilometres away from the Malaysia Airlines plane at the time of the incident. [Flightpath]
Heck, even Air India 1, the Air India Boeing 744 flight which is commissioned to take the Prime Minister of India to his international engagements also flew over Ukraine on the same day, at about the same points. This is a snapshot of AI1 flying over Ukraine, around the conflict zone. Not just that, the other plane in this snapshot is AI 121 on its way to Frankfurt from Delhi, again over Ukrainian airspace.
What surprises me is that the Special Protection Group, responsible for the security of India’s Prime Minister amongst other high level state representatives, need a 4 engine plane to move the PM around, but any commercial jetliner would do without even having the required counter measures for such threats like missiles.
And Jet Airways, as per their own website, claimed they have not been flying over Ukraine’s airspace since the conflict begin. Here is the statement.
Now, while they had a few flights over that airspace on the same day as MH17 going down (July 17, 2014), they should not even have bothered with a lie on their website. I have multiple examples, but here is just one snapshot for your reference about two Jet Airways flights flying near Donetsk on the Ill-fated day, like the government of India calls it.
Those are two of the few Jet Airways flights which were over the Ukrainian air space just the same day, around the same time as MH17 took off from Amsterdam.
No one should fault an airline for flying over the conflict zone, because the airspace above 32000 feet was an open corridor for air traffic, so no one was doing the wrong thing by flying at that altitude. Here is a post by Seth, the Wandering Aramean, explaining how airspace was opened and closed before and after the MH17 incident.
But to try and distance themselves from the tragedy by lying to the public does not get my sympathy to either of the two airlines (Air India and Jet Airways).
Update July 21, 2014: Jet Airways issues a clarification but does not fully come clean.