A Singapore Airlines flight that was well on its way to Istanbul turned back to Singapore after news broke of the attack at Turkey’s Ataturk International Airport on Tuesday night.
Flight SQ392 was, according to flight maps, roughly over Allahabad in northern India, about 3560 kilometres from take-off in Singapore, when news of the Istanbul airport atrocity reached the flight deck and the plane turned around and headed home.
That would indicate the flight had been airborne for about four hours when it turned back. The flight from Singapore Changi to Istanbul Ataturk generally takes about 10 hours and 15 minutes and flight SQ392 had completed about 40% of the distance when it turned around.
The flight departed Changi Airport Terminal 3 at 1.35am local time on Wednesday and was scheduled to arrive at Istanbul at 7.45am, Istanbul time, Singapore’s Straits Times reported.
Ataturk International Airport closed during the bomb and gun massacre. No flights were allowed to take off, though those in the air were allowed to land. The SIA flight was carrying 201 passengers and 14 crew.
The flight was rescheduled for departure at 12.30pm Wednesday, a delay of about 11 hours.
“Singapore Airlines is saddened by the explosions at the Istanbul airport earlier this morning,” SIA said in a media statement.
Meanwhile, Ataturk International Airport is now fully operational and Turkish police special forces have launched 16 simultaneous raids in Istanbul to round up suspects thought to have some connection with ISIS or with the attack. The three attackers, all of whom were killed, are said to have come respectively from Russia’s North Caucasus region, from Uzbekistan and from Kyrgyzstan. One of the terrorists is said to have crossed into Turkey last year from the ISIS-held city of Raqqa in Syria.
Written by Peter Needham