The Boeing 777 was shot down over eastern Ukraine last week, by what is believed to have been a surface-to-air missile fired from an area held by pro-Russian separatists. However, Russia has maintained throughout that Ukrainian forces are to blame.
In the face of the horrific circumstances, Facebook users are urging others to support the airline by continuing to fly with it, saying that the company could not have foreseen the terrible tragedy.
The disaster came just months after flight MH370 disappeared from radar screens an hour after departing Kuala Lumpur airport on 8 March. No trace of the plane has ever been found and its 227 passengers and 12 crew members are presumed dead.
Although the two catastrophes are not linked, the loss of two aircraft within such a short time frame is unprecedented.
And, recognising that people may now be unwilling to use their services, Malaysia Airlines has offered to waive fees for passengers with flights booked between now and 31 December 2014. Any individuals who wish to do so have until Thursday to alter their travel plans.
However, many passengers have said they will continue to fly with the airline, with one user suggesting that not backing it would be “letting the terrorists win”.
One Facebook user wrote on the company’s official Facebook page: “Dear Malaysia Airlines, this is an honourable response to people’s concerns but I sincerely hope that people realise that this was a tragedy that no one could seriously have contemplated and still continue to fly with you and your amazing staff. God bless.”
And another said: “I am one of your frequent flyers, and I will continue to fly with you. True courage is grace under pressure, be strong.”
Video: Aftermath of MH17 crash
Others pointed out that a number of other airlines, including Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, flew the same route on the day that MH 17 was struck down and that the aircraft was in the “wrong place at the wrong time”.
Malaysia Airlines announced yesterday that it would be retiring the MH17 flight number from 25 July “out of respect for our crew and passengers of the mentioned flight”.
The company has pledged its support to the families of the victims, offering them hotel accommodation, emails and transport. It has also assigned “caregivers” to provide emotional support and is offering financial assistance.
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MH17 crash: Facebook users pledge support for Malaysia Airlines