European civil aviation officials say a quarter of international airlines diverted their aircraft away from eastern Ukraine, even before the latest Malaysia Airlines tragedy.
Eurocontrol is the air traffic control body representing 40 countries.
Brian Flynn, a senior manager at Eurocontrol said some restrictions were imposed at the start of the month.
“From the first of July, the most of the air routes of the Eastern part of Ukraine were closed from ground to 26000 feet,” he said. “Since the 14th of July, that was extended from ground to 32000 feet. It (MH-17) was above the 26(000), it was above the 32(000).”
350 civilian planes fly over eastern Ukraine daily, of which as many as 150 are international flights.
Closing the air space will have limited consequences, Flynn said.
“The flights will be rerouting to the North and to the South of the air space concerned, which will increase the amount of flights in Poland, in Bulgaria, in Turkey to some extent, it is not expected to have any major impact either on the delays suffered by the passengers or the congestion in the airspace, there may be some minor delay for passengers, slightly longer flight times by 5-10 minutes over a ten-hour flight, but it is not expected to have a major impact.”