Business as usual for SAA

Travel News

Cape Town - It will be business as usual for SAA flights after a Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down over the Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board, because the airline does not travel over the war-torn country.

Airline operators around the world imposed a no fly-zone over the country on Thursday. About three months ago some airlines were warned to avoid the airspace above the country.

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SAA Cargo has been engaging with the Department of Environmental Affairs on the issue. PICTURE: Leon Nicholas

However, with none of the international flight associations declaring the country a warzone, the Ukraine was still a normal part of many flights from Europe to Asia up until Thursday, said Air Line Pilots’ Association SA president and SAA pilot Marius Santos. He said a passenger plane being shot down over a war-torn country was not common. “In my 35 years I can only think of a few incidents similar to this.”


Santos said in his experience flying for SAA, he has never encountered a no-fly zone.

“It’s up to the International Civil Aviation Organisation who might declare an airspace as a warzone. Sometimes a particular airline might do a risk-assessment of an airspace and find that the chances of something happening in the airspace is fairly high.”

Santos, who has military flying experience, said it was definitely not a stray missile that took out the plane.

“We are talking about a serious weapon here.”

The missile launcher would have had to track the fast moving plane by radar before unleashing the heat-seeking projectile.

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