SIA put up a Facebook posting on 18 Jul, saying that its flights aren’t using Ukraine airspace. This was put up the day after MH17 was apparently shot down by a missile over Ukraine airspace on 17 Jul.
The ill-fated MH17 was apparently shot down and crashed near the city of Donetsk while crossing above a conflict zone in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian rebels are fighting against Ukraine government forces.
SIA’s posting came under fire by many netizens who felt that it was in bad taste. Yesterday (19 Jul), it issued a statement apologizing over the incident (‘SIA apologises for its insensitive social media postings‘).
Meanwhile, SIA’s claim that it is not using Ukraine airspace has been challenged by reports [Link] stating that Flight SQ351 was about 25km away from the ill-fated MH17 when it went down. Posting on SIA’s Facebook page, netizens were berating SIA on this issue, accusing SIA of not being truthful:
Jessica Richardson: SQ it is now all over the international press – you had a flight 25km away from MH17 at the time of the incident. The BUK missile system has a range of 42km. Not only were you in Ukrainian airspace you were potentially in range of the missile. It is time for you to put out a statement and apology.
Unlike British Airways, Virgin, Turkish, Lufthansa, Air France, Aeroflot, Qantas and all US airlines you made the decision to continue using Ukrainian airspace until MH17 went down. You have higher ticket prices than other carriers yet still used the shortest route over a war zone with known surface-to-air missile use. You have put your profits over the safety of your passengers and crew. My family and I are frequent flyers on the London-Singapore route and you have lost our custom for good. I used to be proud of Singapore’s national carrier. Now I am ashamed.
Tong Foo Cheong: If SIA had said: “SIA was using Ukrainian airspace before the MH17 incident, but is no longer using Ukrainian airspace after the incident.”, SIA would come across as being completely honest and truthful. Now we all know that SIA is keeping quiet about whether its planes were flying over Ukraine before.
Michelle Chan: You mean from now? Cause it did fly over Ukraine airspace 4 days ago from SG to Zurich on SQ346.
TRE then went to the website Flightradar24 (www.flightradar24.com) to investigate.
Flightradar24 is a flight tracking service that shows live air traffic from around the world. It also records the history of all the flight paths of the of the airlines. It combines data from several data sources including ADS-B, MLAT and FAA. Its service is frequently featured in the media:
- Flightradar24 exposes the Malaysian Prime Minister. Read more.
- Flightradar24 data shows how airspace was rebooted after Icelandic ash cloud. Watch video.
- EUROCONTROL talks about Flightradar24. Watch video.
- Article in German paper Bild. Read more.
- Article in French paper Le Monde. Read more.
As it turns out, other than SQ351 which used the Ukraine airspace on 17 Jul, there were other SQ flights using it as well on or just before that ill-fated day. In fact, going through the history of SQ flights in Flightradar24, SIA has been documented to use the Ukraine airspace frequently for its Europe flights. In the week before the downing of MH17, at least 70 SQ fights had been recorded to fly over Ukraine airspace.
SQ flights flying over Ukraine on or just before 17 Jul:
Other SQ flights found flying over Ukraine:
- SQ26 Singapore to Frankfurt 16 Jul
- SQ306 Singapore to London 16 Jul
- SQ324 Singapore to Amsterdam 16 Jul
- SQ322 Singapore to London 15 Jul
- SQ321 London to Singapore 16 Jul
- SQ318 Singapore to London 17 Jul
- SQ319 London to Singapore 16 Jul
- SQ326 Singapore to Frankfurt 17 Jul
- SQ325 Frankfurt to Singapore 16 Jul
- SQ327 Munich to Singapore 16 Jul
- SQ328 Singapore to Munich 16 Jul
- SQ333 Paris to Singapore 17 Jul
- SQ345 Zurich to Singapore 16 Jul
- SQ334 Singapore to Paris 16 Jul
- SQ352 Singapore to Copenhagen 16 Jul
So, according to the information from Flightradar24, how can SIA said that Singapore Airlines flights are “not using Ukraine airspace” ?
A case of lack of transparency, just like it’s parent company, Temasek Holdings?
What do you think?