18 July-2014, PTI: Terming as “unfortunate” the loss of lives in the Malaysian airline tragedy, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju today said there was no Indian on board the plane.
No Indian on board in #MH17 crash: Civil Aviation Minister
He also said that the government has already asked all Indian airlines not to overfly Ukraine. “It is unfortunate that this incident has happened. As far as our information… No Indians were on the flight. It is an unfortunate incident. No Indian citizen was on board,” Raju told reporters here.
All 298 people on board the Malaysian plane were killed yesterday after the jet was shot down by “terrorists” over war-torn eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. The Minister said, “We have to be safe with our citizens…Our citizens are our concern. India has alerted its own airlines Jet or Air India and they are avoiding Ukraine as of now. We are happy with the information that we have got that no Indian citizen’s life has been lost.” Aviation regulator, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had yesterday issued instructions to Air India and Jet Airways, the only two Indian carriers that fly to Europe and North America, to avoid Ukrainian airspace while flying to and from destinations in both the continents.
An Air India official had said they would abide by any international advisory “to avoid airspace over conflict zone like Ukraine”.
Ukraine airspace is among the busiest as flights connecting Europe and Asia transit through this region.
On Indian aircraft flying over conflict zones like Gaza, Raju said, “There are conflict zones the world over. So what is the nature of conflict, who all are involved and what is the real threat, everyone has to do their own homework on all this.”
Meanwhile in Mumbai, Jet Airways said it is not operating its flight services to and from Europe through the Ukrainian airspace ever since the conflict began in the region. “Jet Airways would like to assure its guests that none of our flights to and from Europe flew through the Ukrainian airspace ever since the conflict began,” the airline said in a statement here. “We continue to avoid the Ukrainian airspace in the prime interest of the safety of our guests,” Jet Airways said.