MONEY Airlines

Airline ‘Transparency’ Law One Step Closer to Misleading Passengers

Boy holding paper airplane behind his back
John Lund/Sam Diephuis—Getty Images

A bill that would allow airlines to hide the true cost of flights (fees and all) was just passed by the House

Currently, airlines must include the full price of a flight—including federal taxes and fees—in advertisements. However, a new bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives on Monday, would allow the ads to exclude government fees, allowing for marketing that could fool consumers into thinking their flights will cost significantly less than they’ll actually end up paying.

As MONEY’s Brad Tuttle reported in April, $61 dollars of a typical $300 flight comes from federal taxes–20% of the overall ticket price. Under the new law, airlines could ignore that portion of the fare and advertise the same flight at $239. Could anyone actually buy that flight for $239? Of course not.

Regulations passed in 2012 outlawed this type of misdirection, but the airlines are now one step away from bringing it back.

The bill’s advocates argue that letting airlines advertise their unmodified prices would show consumers how much the government is adding to their travel bill. When the law was first proposed in the spring, supporters said it would “restore transparency to the advertising of U.S. airline ticket prices, and ensure that airfare ads are not forced to hide the costs of government from consumers.”

Knowing about government-added expenses is all well and good, but consumer advocates believe the law will do more to confuse flyers than educate them. The National Consumers League says the bill doesn’t provide transparency, and merely allows the airlines to advertise eye-grabbing but deceptive lower prices in order to win more business. In this way, the “Transparent Airlines Act” actually makes what consumers must pay for flights more opaque. That’s the opposite of transparency.

The Transparent Airlines Act still needs to pass the Senate before it becomes a law, and its opponents aren’t going to give up without a fight.

“Our organization, together with other consumer groups, will work closely with Senate staff to stop the passage of a companion bill,” said Charlie Leocha, Chairman of Travelers United, a consumer protection organization focused on travelers. “Even though the name of the bill contains the word ‘transparency,’ the effect of this legislation would be anything but.”

TIME Israel

FAA Extends Israel Flight Ban Another 24 Hours

Cancelled fights shown on a departure board in Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, just outside Tel Aviv, Israel on July 23, 2014.
Cancelled fights shown on a departure board in Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, just outside Tel Aviv, Israel on July 23, 2014. Jim Hollander—EPA

The FAA renewed its flight ban a day after a rocket struck near Tel Aviv's airport

The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday extended its ban prohibiting U.S. airlines from flying to and from Israel’s main airport for another 24 hours. The renewed ban comes amid escalating violence between Israel and Islamist groups in the Gaza Strip, particularly Hamas.

The announcement came a day after a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip struck about a mile from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. In response to the rocket attack, the FAA stopped all U.S. air travel in and out of the city. Just hours before the announcement, Delta Airlines and United Airlines said they were voluntarily and indefinitely suspending Israel flights. Several major European air carriers, over which the FAA holds no authority, have also voluntarily stopped flying to Israel.

“Due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza, all flight operations to/from Ben Gurion International Airport (llbg) by U.S. operators are prohibited for up to 24 hours,” the FAA said Wednesday in its renewed ban.

The FAA’s renewal of the ban came despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plea to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the FAA reverse it. The State Department said Tuesday it was not involved in the FAA’s decision to implement the ban.

The U.S. State Department issued travel warnings for Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip Monday.

Zeke J. Miller contributed reporting.

MONEY stocks

What Airline Stocks Tell Us About the Rest of the Market

airplane window view above the clouds
Getty Images

A century-old market timing strategy known as Dow Theory views the rally in airline stocks as a bullish sign, but investors need to approach the transportation sector with skepticism.

High oil prices. Fee-weary passengers. A global economy that’s still not firing on all cylinders. And geopolitical crises forcing carriers to re-route their flights.

Given these recent developments, you’d think that airlines stocks would be struggling of late.

But you’d be wrong. Airline stocks have been among the best performing groups in the U.S. stock market recently, with the Dow Jones U.S. airline index up nearly 75% over the past 12 months.

^DJUSAR Chart

^DJUSAR data by YCharts

In the short run, this trend is likely to continue, especially if airlines keep posting strong results. On Tuesday, Delta Airlines reported that revenue grew more than 9% in the recently ended quarter, versus the same period last year. The carrier also reported earnings per share of $1.04, versus consensus forecasts of around $1.02 a share.

But what of the long run?

One of the most enduring market-timing strategies on Wall Street would seem to point to blue skies ahead—and not just for airline and transportation stocks.

Dow Theory, the brainchild of Charles Dow, the founder of The Wall Street Journal, is one of the oldest technical indicators that’s still used by investors to gauge future stock market movements. Dow Theory has many technical layers, but in broad strokes the strategy seeks to verify trends in the Dow Jones Industrial Average by looking at the Dow Jones Transportation Average.

The idea is that stocks tend to rise when the economy is humming. And to tell if that’s the case, you need to see not only that factories are on the upswing (as measured by the Dow Industrials), but that transportation companies that are paid to move manufactured goods out of those factories are also on a roll. Hence the need to study the Dow Transports.

Recently, the airlines haven’t been the only transports rallying. Shares of railroads and trucking-related companies have also been on the rise:

^DJUSAR Chart

^DJUSAR data by YCharts

This explains why both the Dow Industrials and Dow Transports are at or really close to their all-time highs:

^DJT Chart

^DJT data by YCharts

Still, it’s important to understand that transport stocks have been soaring for more than five years now, as investors have been anticipating an improved economy ever since 2009.

The result is the bull market in transportation is getting long in the tooth. Meanwhile, valuations for many of these companies, including the airlines, are soaring.

As you can see below, while the broad market trades at a price/earnings ratio of around 17 or 18, many airline stocks — such as Southwest , United Continental , JetBlue , and Spirit — trade at significantly higher P/E ratios.

LUV PE Ratio (TTM) Chart

LUV PE Ratio (TTM) data by YCharts

The bottom line: This may be a time when it makes more sense to look at the fundamentals of each individual company, rather than at the technical trends for the airlines or transports as a whole.

TIME Israel

Birthright Youth Trips Continue As Israel-Gaza Conflict Rages On

There are currently nearly 2,500 youths traveling on Birthright

Updated 6:08 p.m. ET July 22,2014

As airlines around the world are canceling flights to Israel in light of a rocket attack near the country’s main international airport, the Birthright Israel program is carrying on with its mission of sending Jewish youth on free ten-day trips to the country.

Still, nearly a third of people scheduled to join upcoming trips have cancelled their plans since the conflict in Gaza has escalated, according to the organization. Some 2,600 people are currently in Israel on Birthright trips, according to the group, and more than 22,000 have participated over the course of the summer. Only 10 participants have returned early during the past few weeks, though some who recently came back from trips say they would have been unlikely to go given the current environment.

“There would be no way I would want to go on a trip now,” says Heather Paley, who returned to the U.S. from a Birthright trip just as the conflict began to intensify. “It’s a really small country, and I realized when they mentioned places that were being attacked, I was at those places.”

More than 600 people have died in the fighting as of Tuesday, Reuters reports, the vast majority of them Palestinian. One of the Israeli soldiers killed in the conflict was Max Steinberg, a Los Angeles native who enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces after visiting the country on a Birthright trip.

A Birthright spokesperson, Pamela Fertel Weinstein, says the organization is monitoring the situation in coordination with the Israel Ministry of Education, the Israeli Defense Forces, and other law enforcement organizations. She says that Birthright has maintained a strong safety record as conflicts involving Israel have ebbed and flowed, which she attributed to being “cautious and conservative.”

For all travelers in Israel, including Birthright participants, the cancellations of flights to by American and European carriers may hinder their ability to leave the country. On July 22, the Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. airlines from flying to Israel for a 24-hour period, and the order could be extended. Several European carriers have cancelled their flights as well. Nonetheless, Weinstein says that the program works with a variety of airlines and hotels to ensure that nobody is left without assistance and lodging in the event of cancellations or delays.

Other tourists are left up to their own devices. Julia May, who cut short a three-week educational program to Israel this month after seeing rockets from the beach, says she was torn between the opposing perspectives of her American friends who thought she was “crazy” to stay in the country and the positive mindset in Israel.

“Even when you’re just a visitor you get this mentality ‘yeah, I can stay through this,'” she says. “But even if you feel safe, you know you’re still in a war zone.”

MONEY Airlines

The New TSA Fee Should Change the Way You Book Flights

An airline passenger is patted down by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent
An airline passenger is patted down by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent at Los Angeles International Airport. Kevork Djansezian—Reuters

Airline passengers used to pay as little as $5 round trip in TSA fees. Now everybody pays $11.20, and you could be forced to cough up double that.

As of July 21, the TSA’s September 11 Security Fee structure has been changed, and all travelers flying within the U.S. will be paying more every time a flight is purchased. Passengers on nonstop flights must now pay $5.60 each way, up from $2.50, so therefore the TSA fee on a basic round trip consisting of two nonstop flights is $11.20, up from $5. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around that fee hike, which amounts to a 124% increase. The fees are automatically tacked onto the price of airfare.

In the past, fliers on nonstops paid less in fees than travelers on connecting flights: $5 for a round trip, versus $10. Now everybody pays $11.20, regardless of connections. So in addition to nonstop flights being superior in terms of saving time and avoiding possible delays and missed connections, there was the added bonus of saving a few bucks on the TSA fees.

Now that little bonus is gone.

Even so, it’s almost always still best to go with a nonstop, if possible. Sure, delays and technical troubles can happen on nonstops, but travelers are far more likely to encounter such hassles on connecting flights. With recent airline mergers, carriers have slowly been getting rid of the old hub-and-spoke systems at the same time they’ve been trimming back the overall number of flights. As a result, passengers are generally more likely to find nonstop flights to their destination of choice and more likely to run into extra trouble on connecting flights. (It’s less likely there will be another flight behind the one you missed, and even if there is it probably doesn’t have enough extra seats.)

By going nonstop, passengers also rule out the risk of being forced to pay extra TSA fees on connecting flights with unusually long layovers. In the past, budget travel experts sometimes recommended looking into flights with extra-long layovers as a tactic for saving money. The new TSA fee structure makes that strategy a little less worth the hassle. Now, if a connecting flight has a layover of four or more hours, fliers must pay $5.60 for each leg of the journey. So for a flight from, say, Providence to Los Angeles with a five-hour layover in Dallas, a passenger would pay $11.20 in TSA fees, as opposed to $5.60 to a passenger booked on a nonstop or on a connecting flight with a more reasonable layover wait.

Airfarewatchdog.com founder George Hobica gave the Arizona Republic an example of a recent flight deal that would be affected: $197 for a winter season round trip from Newark to a choice of destinations in the Caribbean. “The catch,” the article explained, is that “travelers had to stay overnight in Miami in both directions.” So their layover would obviously be more than four hours—so they’d get hit with double the usual fees.

Fliers booking multi-stop itineraries—usually for business purposes, but not necessarily—will also feel the impact of the new fee structure more so than others, as they’ll have to pay at least $5.60 for each leg of the journey, rather than as little as $2.50 in the past. Depending on the traveler, number of stops on the itinerary, and the reason for the trip, this might not necessarily be a deal breaker. But it absolutely should factor into the decision making process.

TIME celebrities

Orange Co-Star Jason Biggs Apologizes for Malaysia Crash Tweets

Cast member Jason Biggs attends the season two premiere of "Orange is the New Black" in New York
Cast member Jason Biggs attends the season two premiere of "Orange is the New Black" in New York on May 15, 2014. Biggs sparked public outrage after a series of controversial Twitter posts about Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 shortly after it crashed. Eric Thayer—Reuters

The actor who sparked public outrage months ago about flight MH370 has done it again — this time about MH17

A series of tweets by actor Jason Biggs on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was reportedly shot down by a missile in a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists, has caused outrage on social media.

Biggs, who stars in Orange Is the New Black, wrote in a tweet that has since been deleted, “Anyone wanna buy my Malaysian Airlines frequent flier miles?”

While some saw nothing wrong in making what appeared to be a dark joke in response to grim news, many of his nearly 450,000 followers considered the tweet offensive.

Biggs initially responded to critics with a series of profane tweets accusing them of being overly sensitive, “You don’t have to think it’s funny, or even be on my twitter page at all,” he said.

However, he later deleted his initial tweets and offered an apology to his fans, “People were offended, and that was not my intent. Sorry to those of you that were,” Biggs wrote. “This is obviously a horrible tragedy, and everyone — including myself — is sad and angry about it. Sending positive thoughts to the victims and their families.”

The actor, who is best known for his role in the American Pie films, is no stranger to tweeting controversial remarks. In the days following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March, Biggs also triggered outrage with a reference to the missing plane in a tweet about the U.S. reality-TV show The Bachelor.

TIME Transportation

Malaysia Airlines Ukraine Crash: FAA Bans U.S. Flight Routes Over Region

Emergencies Ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash, MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region
Emergencies Ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash, MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, on July 17, 2014. Maxim Zmeyev—Reuters

Other nations' air carriers have also adjusted flight routes to avoid the region

The Federal Aviation Adminstration (FAA) has released a Notice to Airman barring U.S. flight operations within the Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk regions of Eastern Ukraine following the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was reportedly shot down over the war-torn area.

The new flight paths prohibited on Thursday are an addition to routes that were axed by the FAA in April throughout the Crimean region of Ukraine, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. “Events have indicated the potential for continued hazardous activities,” The FAA wrote in the statement.

The Boeing 777 plane, which was flying to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, crashed between the Luhansk and Donetsk regions on Thursday. Ukrainian and U.S. officials say that a missile targeted the plane, although is remains unconfirmed which side involved in Ukraine’s civil war was responsible for the action.

According to the FAA statement, there are currently no U.S. flights scheduled to fly through eastern Ukraine. The prohibition will be reviewed again in October. Along with U.S. flight operations, other nations’ air carriers have also adjusted flight routes to avoid the region, says the BBC.

TIME Asia

Malaysia Airlines Ukraine Crash: Disaster Strikes Twice

Less than five months after MH370 mysteriously disappeared, Malaysia Airlines is reeling from a second disaster after a Boeing 777 was reportedly shot down over Ukraine on Thursday

+ READ ARTICLE

(HANOI, Vietnam) — Two Boeing 777s. Two incredibly rare aviation disasters. And one airline.

In what appears to be a mind-boggling coincidence, Malaysia is reeling from the second tragedy to hit its national airline in less than five months.

On March 8, a Malaysia Airlines jetliner vanished about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, spawning an international mystery that remains unsolved. On Thursday, the airline — and the nation — were pitched into another crisis after the same type of aircraft was reported shot down over Ukraine.

Ukraine said the plane was brought down by a missile over the violence-wracked eastern part of the country. Other details were only just beginning to emerge.

But what’s certain is that the struggling airline and the nation must now prepare for another agonizing encounter with grief, recriminations, international scrutiny and serious legal and diplomatic implications.

“This is a tragic day in what has already been a tragic year for Malaysia,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

Amid it all, a question: Just how could disaster strike the airline twice in such a short space of time?

“Either one of these events has an unbelievably low probability,” said John Cox, president and CEO of Safety Operating Systems and a former airline pilot and accident investigator. “To have two in a just a few months of each other is certainly unprecedented.”

The first disaster deeply scarred Malaysia and left the world dumbstruck. How could a Boeing 777-200ER, a modern jumbo jet, simply disappear? Flight 370 had veered off course during a flight to Beijing and is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean far off the western Australian coast.

The search area has changed several times, but no sign of the aircraft, or the 239 people aboard, has been found. Until then, how the plane got there is likely to remain a mystery.

On Thursday, there was no mystery over the whereabouts of the Boeing 777-200ER, which went down on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 283 passengers and 15 crew members. Its wreckage was found in Ukraine, and there were no survivors.

Officials said the plane was shot down at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet.) The region has seen severe fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists in recent days.

“If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice,” Malaysia’s prime minister said.

Malaysia Airlines was widely criticized for the way it handled the Flight 370 hunt and investigation. Some relatives of those on board accused the airline of engaging in a cover-up, and there have been persistent conspiracy theories over the fate of the plane, including that it might have been shot down.

There was no immediate reason to think the two disasters to befall the airline were in any way linked.

Najib said the plane’s flight route had been declared safe by the global civil aviation body. And Cox said that to his knowledge, there was no prohibition against flying over eastern Ukraine despite the fighting on the ground.

Charles Oman, a lecturer at the department of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said it was too early to draw conclusions.

“Given the military conflict in the region, one has to be concerned that identities could have been mistaken,” he said in an email.

Malaysia Airlines was especially criticized for the way it handled the communications around the missing jetliner, which presented unique challenges because of the uncertainty facing the relatives of those on board. With the plane crashing Thursday over land and its wreckage already located, there will be no such uncertainty.

But the investigation will be just as sensitive. There will be legal and diplomatic implications depending on who was responsible.

“The airline and the Malaysian transport ministry took a lot of hits for the way they handled MH370, due to their inexperience,” Oman said. “Hopefully they will do better this time.”

The accident will surely inflict more financial damage on Malaysia Airlines. Even before the March disaster, it reported a loss of $370 million in 2013 when most of the word’s other airlines were posting an average profit of 4.7 percent. After the Flight 370 disaster, passengers canceled flights, and even though the airline is insured, it faces uncertainty over payouts to the victims’ families.

“They were in worse shape than any other airline in the world before even the first incident,” said Seth Kaplan, managing partner of industry newsletter Airline Weekly. “There’s little precedent for an airline going through what they have gone through let alone surviving it.”

TIME Terrorism

Malaysia Airlines Ukraine Crash: Protecting Airliners from Missile Attacks

A US Air Force officer climbs onto his B
U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo planes, like this one at a Russian air base in 2011, are protected by onboard jammers, a capability not on most civilian airliners. Dmitry Kostyukov—AFP/Getty Images

The hardware exists, but it's costly

Air Force One is protected by electronic jammers from most missiles, likely including the one that may have shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over the Russian-Ukrainian border Thursday.

Why aren’t commercial airliners protected, too?

This has been a debate ever since the development of small, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles like the U.S. Stinger nearly 35 years ago, and the resulting fears that such weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

It may cost the airline industry billions of dollars, but Pentagon officials spoke of the need for such defenses in 2002, after a pair of Russian-made shoulder-launched Strela-2 missiles narrowly missed an Israeli 757 as it took off from the Kenyan city of Mombassa with 271 aboard. MH17 may have been downed by a bigger, radar-guided missile, in which case defenses against shoulder-fired heat-seeking missiles wouldn’t have worked.

But defeating missiles is a problem the Pentagon has been grappling with for some time: In 1999, the Defense Department told Congress the biggest threat to its cargo planes was shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles like the ones fired in Mombassa. In 2002, the Pentagon awarded a $23 million contract to outfit four Air Force C-17 cargo planes with sophisticated equipment to protect them from Stingers, SA-7s and other portable heat-seeking missiles favored by terrorists.

“That’s more than $5 million per plane,” an Air Force officer said at the time. “Once the first U.S. commercial airliner is shot down—and U.S. airlines rush to install these systems on their own planes—the price will drop to $2 million or $3 million per plane.”

Not exactly a bargain, but some U.S. defense officials have long believed that such systems will have to become standard equipment aboard U.S. airliners. That 2002 system was an updated version of the AN/AAQ-24 (V) Nemesis, which protects both big transports (apparently including Air Force One) and military helicopters. Built by the Northrop Grumman Corp., it is known as the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures — LAIRCM — system, and plans were to outfit the hundreds of cargo planes and tankers operated by the U.S. Air Force.

LAIRCM automatically detects, tracks and jams infrared missiles, sending a high-intensity laser beam into the missile’s seeker to disrupt its guidance system. No action is required by the crew. The pilot simply is informed that a threat missile was detected and jammed. “Inexpensive, yet lethal, surface-to-air missiles have proliferated around the globe and unfortunately are in the hands of our potential adversaries,” Arnold Welch, vice president for Infrared Countermeasures Programs at Northrop Grumman’s Defensive Systems Division in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, said at the time. “It is essential that our military pilots and air crews have this sophisticated type of protection in order to perform their missions and return safely.”

Early reports from Ukraine suggest the plane may have been downed by a tracked Russian-built Buk missile system. Flying at about 33,000 feet, the airliner was beyond the range of most man-portable missiles. The Buk missile uses radar to guide itself to its target, unlike the heat-seeking Stinger. Planes trying to elude radar-guided missiles can use various electronic jammers and disperse clouds of foil-like chaff to confuse the missile’s radar by confusing it with multiple targets.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 Graphic
Source: FlightAware

The threat of SAM attacks on U.S. airliners was acknowledged in an FAA study in 1993, which noted that as passenger and baggage screening became more rigorous, the chances of missile strikes would rise. The U.S. government’s interest in the problem followed its decision to supply Afghan mujahideen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan—whose ranks included the late Osama bin Laden and many of his al-Qaeda lieutenants—with about 1,000 Stinger missiles in the 1980s. Pentagon officials credit the Stinger with downing about 250 Soviet aircraft.

The discovery of a Strela-2 (dubbed the SA-7 by NATO) missile tube near a Saudi military base used by U.S. warplanes in 2001 prompted the FBI to alert U.S. law-enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for any signs that terrorists were planning shoulder-fired missile attacks. While the missile found in Saudi Arabia remained in its tube, burn marks suggested a bungled effort to fire it, U.S. officials said. A Sudanese with possible al Qaeda links was arrested in connection with the missile.

“The FBI possesses no information indicating that al-Qaeda is planning to use ‘Stinger’ missiles or any type of MANPAD (MAN Portable Air Defense) weapons system against commercial aircraft in the United States,” the 2001 FBI warning said. “However, given al-Qaeda’s demonstrated objective to target the U.S. airline industry, its access to U.S. and Russian-made MANPAD systems, and recent apparent targeting of U.S.-led military forces in Saudi Arabia, law enforcement agencies in the United States should remain alert to potential use of MANPADs against U.S. aircraft.”

TIME Malaysia

Malaysia Airlines Flight Crashes in Ukraine

There were reportedly 295 people aboard

A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane crashed in eastern Ukraine Thursday, and was widely suspected to have been shot down by forces on the ground.

“We have this information. A Boeing 777 traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lampur crashed north of Torez [in eastern Ukraine],” Vladislav Seleznev, a spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces, told RIA Novosti news agency. The flight was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members.

Although there was no direct evidence pointing to the cause of the crash, Ukrainian officials voiced suspicions that it was deliberately shot down by pro-Russian separatist forces in the east of the country. Ukraine had earlier claimed a Russian military plane shot down a Ukrainian jet fighter Wednesday night.

Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, said separatist rebels were using a surface-to-air missile provided to them by the Russians. “There is no limit to the cynicism of Putin and his terrorists!” he said, in a Russian language Facebook post.

Rebel groups said they did not have any weapons in their arsenal capable of hitting a plane at 33,000ft, Interfax reports, and suggested the Ukrainian military had shot down the plane.

Malaysia Airlines released a statement Thursday afternoon confirming it had lost contact with MH17 over Ukrainian airspace, approximately 30 miles from the Russia-Ukraine border. The FAA banned U.S. carriers from flying over eastern Ukraine and Crimea on April 25.

Flight tracking shows the plane’s last recorded location in Ukraine at 8:11 am, shortly after the Polish border. A source told Interfax that the Boeing 777 suddenly began declining 50km before entering Russian airspace and was found burning on the ground.

 

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 Graphic
Source: FlightAware

The White House said that President Obama spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, who informed him of the crash. The Malaysian Prime Minister also made a statement on Twitter expressing shock at the crash:

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March, inspiring round-the-clock news coverage and an ongoing international hunt for the plane, which is believed to be in the Indian Ocean.

With reporting by Simon Shuster and Zeke J. Miller

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