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French plane diverted after Russia closes airspace

Associated Press Updated: March 26, 2014 at 9:46 am

BERLIN (AP) — Air France said Wednesday that a plane carrying 495 passengers and 22 crew was diverted on its way from Shanghai to Paris after Russia closed part of its airspace because of the launch of a Russian spacecraft to the International Space Station.

The company said flight AF111 was forced to land in Hamburg, Germany, early Wednesday to refuel because the plane had too little fuel to complete the flight following its unexpected detour.

Hamburg Airport confirmed that the Airbus A380 landed shortly after 6 a.m. (0500 GMT) and was able to take off for Paris again after an hour and a half.

In a statement, Air France said the airspace closure was due to a military exercise. Later company spokeswoman Ulli Gendrot said the airspace closure was a result of the launch of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The Soyuz booster rocket lifted off as scheduled at 3:17 a.m. local time Wednesday (2117 GMT Tuesday) from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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