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Singapore Airlines alters US route because of North Korean missiles

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, December 8, 2017  /  05:32 pm
Singapore Airlines alters US route because of North Korean missiles

There has been growing concern about flight paths in the region after two other Asian carriers reported that some of their pilots believe they spotted yet another ballistic missile North Korea tested earlier this month. (Shutterstock/File)

Singapore Airlines reportedly altered a flight route between Asia and the United States earlier this year in reaction to North Korean missile tests.

A spokesperson for the airline told CNNMoney on Wednesday that it had rerouted its daily flights between Seoul and Los Angeles in the US after a North Korean missile launch in July 2017.

There has been growing concern about flight paths in the region after two other Asian carriers reported that some of their pilots believe they spotted yet another ballistic missile North Korea tested earlier this month.

Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific revealed that the crew of a homebound flight from San Francisco saw what seemed to be the missile re-entering the atmosphere on Nov. 29.

Korean Air reported that pilots on two of its flights to Seoul "saw a flash, and everyone [assumed] it had to be the missile, because of the timing.

North Korea launched what is supposedly its biggest and most powerful missile that day. The projectile flew up to 2,800 miles (4,475 km) before plummeting into the ocean off the western coast of Japan.

Read also: Indonesia condemns North Korean missile launch

Singapore Airlines flights do not travel "in the vicinity of the missile trajectory,” as its route were changed to avoid the northern part of the sea between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. Flight tracking data show that the Cathay Pacific aircraft was not traveling over that part of the sea, either. Cathay Pacific said its plane was “far from the event location” and thus unaffected by it, but the crew had to report the sighting, in line with protocol guidelines.

Cathay Pacific said it remains in contact with authorities, industry bodies and other carriers for information on altered routes or operating parameters. “We remain alert and are reviewing the situation as it evolves.”

The Singapore Airlines route change in July follows an Air France aircraft passing just east of the splashdown site of a North Korean missile, not more than 10 minutes before the weapon hit the water. This was around the time US Defense Department spokesman Jeff Davis warned that the North Korean missile "flew through busy airspace used by commercial airliners.”

Guidelines issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN agency tasked with governing air safety, state that nations have the "responsibility to issue risk advisories regarding any threats to the safety of civilian aircraft operating in their airspace.”

According to authorities in South Korea, Pyongyang routinely fails to issue notices to airmen when conducting missile launches, leaving pilots and airlines unaware of potential risks during their flights. (afr/kes)

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