Russian authorities have ordered the country's carriers to avoid overflying Syrian territory following an apparent attack on a Nordwind Airlines Airbus A320.

The aircraft had been in Syrian airspace, en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to Kazan on 29 April, when its crew came under armed threat - possibly from an attempted missile strike.

Russian federal aviation regulator Rosaviatsia had already recommended, on 28 February, that airlines should try to bypass the airspace given the conflict in the Arab state.

"Some carriers did not listen to the advice and continued to operate in the airspace in which hostile actions are taking place involving missiles," it says.

While several airlines have suspended transits over Syria, Rosaviatsia is resorting to a formal directive to preserve safety.

It says it has banned Syrian overflights and instructed its regional territorial authorities to ensure carriers "strictly" adhere to the order until further notice.

"[We] believe the commercial interests, in this current situation, cannot prevail over the security of citizens using the services of Russian airlines," says Rosaviatsia.

It cites the accidental shooting down of a Sibir Tupolev Tu-154 over the Black Sea in October 2001, which investigators attributed to a surface-to-air missile fired by Ukrainian armed forces during an exercise. The aircraft, operating Tel Aviv-Novosibirsk, was destroyed with the loss of all 78 on board.

Rosaviatsia says the accident demonstrates that actual combat is "not necessary" for there to be implications for civil aircraft safety.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news