by Helen Nianias, The Telegraph, August 4, 2017
Air France-KLM has expanded its no-fly zone around North Korea after one of its jets flew past the location where an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fired by Pyongyang landed just 10 minutes earlier.
British Airways, which has used a similar route over the Sea of Japan as recently as Thursday, told The Telegraph yesterday that their routes are under constant review.
Air France's flight 293, a Boeing 777 carrying 323 people from Tokyo to Paris, missed North Korea's latest ICBM as it hit the Sea of Japan on July 28 by about 60 miles, a spokesman said, citing flight data provided by Japan.
Air France say the plane was never in danger.
"The information available to Air France at this stage indicates that the missile was damaged at sea more than 62 miles from the trajectory of its aircraft," airline officials said. They added that even if this distance was correct, it would not have imperiled the flight.
However, as a precaution, Air France-KLM have decided to reroute flights heading north from Japan.
"At this stage, as a precautionary measure, the company has decided to expand the non-flyover area around North Korea, a country that it does not overfly."
It stressed that the flight had "operated in accordance with the flight plan and without any reported incident."
The new route will make the flights 10 to 30 minutes longer, depending on the direction of travel, the spokesman said.
The plane on July 28 passed west of Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island and northernmost prefecture, as the North Korean ICBM was airborne.
British Airways, which also passes west of Hokkaido and flies over the same stretch of sea on flights between Japan and Europe, told The Telegraph that safety is its top priority. "There isn't one set route that we use every time, and a dedicated team will be reviewing all our routes, principally directed by safety," a spokesman said.
"Over the past few days, various airlines have continued to use unrestricted airspace east of the North Korean flight information region," says Ian Petchenik of Flightradar24. These include Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot, Lufthansa, Japan Airlines and Swiss.
North Korea gives no warning before testing its missiles, which it has been doing with increasing frequency in recent months.
It claims the missile tested on July 28 is capable of reaching any part of the continental US.