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SINGAPORE - After getting a drubbing on social media for making statements deemed "insensitive" after the downing of flight MH17, Singapore Airlines (SIA) issued a public apology on Saturday and expressed solidarity with families affected by the air tragedy.
Hours after the Malaysia Airlines jetliner was shot down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing 298 people, the airline's Facebook and Twitter updates said its own flights were not using Ukraine airspace.
That triggered a flood of angry responses, with many lambasting the airline for not offering condolences to the victims' families and for mounting what some perceived as a publicity stunt during a crisis involving its neighbouring country's flagship airline.
Customers may wish to note that Singapore Airlines flights are not using Ukraine airspace.— Singapore Airlines (@SingaporeAir) July 17, 2014
"You better come up with a more considerate, diplomatic and a more sensitive status before you lose customers," said a post by Edwin Lim on Singapore Airlines' Facebook page. "Very, very inappropriate and disappointing status."
SIA, Singapore's best known brand, later also clarified that its flights had been re-routed to alternative paths that were away from Ukrainian airspace after the shooting of MH17.
In a statement on Saturday, a spokesman from the airline said, "We are aware of that our Facebook and Twitter update on Friday morning may have come across as insensitive to some." The statement added that it had received many requests from customers seeking information about routes for their upcoming flights, however.
"We recognise that the information could have been better communicated and we sincerely apologise if it had offended our customers and anyone else in the online community."
According to Flightradar24, an online flight-tracking service, 66 other carriers flew hundreds of times in the area where MH17 was shot down in the last week.
Malaysia flew there 48 times and Singapore Airlines 75 times. The flight-tracking service also published an image showing a Singapore Airlines flight from Copenhagen to Singapore was about 25 kilometres from MH17 when the Malaysian jet was brought down.