KLM suspends flights to Asia to avoid Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Dutch flag carrying airline KLM has cancelled several Asia-bound flights following the outbreak of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Flights from Amsterdam to Seoul, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo were halted because the airline was unwilling to fly over Armenia and Azerbaijan.

One flight that took off for Tokyo had to turn round and return to Amsterdam on Tuesday. KLM said passengers would be booked onto other flights over the next week.

Other airlines rerouted their planes via Georgia or Turkey, but KLM said alternative flight paths were difficult to arrange, especially with Russian airspace closed.

The airline hopes to resume flights by the end of the next week after a ceasefire was declared on Wednesday, but all scheduled departures on Wednesday and Thursday remain cancelled as a precaution.

The ceasefire took effect at 1pm local time (10am CET) on Wednesday after Armenian separatist forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region of Azerbaijan populated mainly by Armenians, surrendered and agreed to start talks on the future of the region.

KLM has said customers who were due to fly between September 19 and 21 can transfer to other flights leaving on or before September 28 free of charge. Alternatively they can request a refund or a travel voucher.

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