SIA shamed for Ukraine flight claim
Data shows more SIA flights (75) over Donetsk than MAS (48)
Singapore Airlines has been shamed for apparently trying to whitewash its frequent flights over Ukraine before the MAS disaster on Thursday: data published on Friday showed that SIA was the second-biggest user of Ukraine airspace in the Donetsk region where MH17 was shot down.
A table published by NRK, the Norwegian broadcasting corporation, gives the lie to SIA’s posting on Facebook on Friday which gave the impression that the airline did not use Ukraine airspace even before the MAS disaster.
NRK said it requested data from flight-tracking web site Flightradar24 which showed that there had been 830 flights over the Donetsk region in the week before. SIA had 75 flights, behind the Russian airline Aeroflot and ahead of Ukraine International Airlines, Lufthansa, MAS (48), Belavia, Thai Airways, Air India, Pakistan International Airlines, and Jet Airways of India.
But the previous day, soon after MH17 disappeared, Flightradar itself had also posted on Twitter an image showing SIA flight SQ351 and Air India AI113 close to the final position reported for MH17.
Then on Friday evening, SIA told Reuters: “We have re-routed our flights since the incidents and are no longer using that airspace.”
But that was not what the Facebook said: it clearly gave the misleading impression that SIA did not fly over Ukraine at all — and could also be read as trying to cash in on the MAS disaster. It sparked off heavy criticism on the Internet; last night, the airline apologised, Yahoo reported. A spokesman said: “We recognise that the information could have been better communicated and we sincerely apologise if it had offended our customers and anyone else in the online community” adding that the airline was aware that their initial update came across as “insensitive” to some.
Flightradar24, however, had already made its point on Friday.