President bans Indonesian airlines to fly through conflict zones

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered all Indonesian airline companies, which operate on international routes to avoid flying through conflict zones following the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine on Thursday (July 17).

"I instruct Indonesian airlines to avoid conflict zones, such as Ukraine, Russia-Ukraine border, and over Gaza Strip. The Transportation Ministry and Garuda Airlines have also taken the required steps," President Yudhoyono stated during a press conference at the presidential office here on Friday.

The head of state also urged all Indonesian citizens planning to travel abroad to ensure that the flights they chose did not fly over conflict areas.

"Indonesia also calls for all sides to reach a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian conflict as it impacts the world, which is apparent by the crash of the Malaysian airlines flight," remarked Yudhoyono.

Earlier on Friday morning, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marty Natalegawa visited the presidential office to discuss the actual news related to the crash and the Indonesian passengers who became victims.

"At the moment, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has been cooperating with Malaysian Airlines to call the families of the victims. However, we have the data, and we aim to reach the families prior to making an official announcement," Natalegawa stated.

In the afternoon, Indonesian Transportation Ministrys spokesperson J.A. Barata confirmed that 12 Indonesians, including an infant, were on the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines plane, which was shot down over Ukraine.

On Thursday (July 17), Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down in eastern Ukraine.

The flight was carrying a total number of 298 people, comprising 283 passengers including three infants of varied nationalities and 15 crew members of Malaysian nationality. Some of the nationalities of the passengers are yet to be determined.

Malaysian Prime Minister Nadjib Razak remarked that no distress call was received before the plane went down, and that the flight route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organization.