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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Air Controllers Block Delta Jet

ATLANTA — A Delta Air Lines flight en route to Japan was forced back to the United States on Thursday after Russian air traffic controllers said it didn't have permission to fly through their airspace, an airline spokesman said.

Delta Flight 55, carrying 203 passengers and 15 crew members, was about 20 minutes into Russian airspace when controllers there notified the pilots that the flight lacked proper clearance, Delta spokesman Russ Williams said. He said the plane turned around and recrossed the Pacific Ocean, landing in San Francisco early Thursday.

"From Delta's perspective, the proper paperwork has been filed and we will certainly be looking into the matter," Williams said. "This is a normal daily flight."

Robert Usov, a spokesman for the civil aviation sector of the Russian Air Traffic Control Center in Moscow, said Delta had failed to send a request in time for permission to fly through Russian airspace but that it was given special clearance by Moscow.

Williams said the flight path from Atlanta to Narita, Japan, passes through Russian airspace every day. He said the plane had been in the air for about 9 1/2 hours when it was told to turn around. The flight to San Francisco took 5 1/2 hours more.