Dutch man avoids doomed MH17 and MH370 flights

Maarten de Jonge, 29, was scheduled to fly on both Malaysia Airlines flights before changing his plans at the last minute

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A Dutch man cheated death by buying tickets for both the Malaysia Airlines passenger jets involved in international aviation disasters over the past four months and then changing his plans at the last minute.

Maarten de Jonge was scheduled to fly aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished somewhere over the Indian Ocean in March, and he also had a ticket for MH17, which was downed by a missile on Thursday over Ukraine - but changed his travel itinerary at the last minute in both cases.

De Jonge, 29, a professional cyclist, regularly travels around the world to compete in tournaments.

“It’s inconceivable,” he told Dutch public broadcaster RTV Oost. “I am very sorry for the passengers and their families, yet I am very pleased I’m unharmed.”

De Jonge said that he swapped a flight on MH17 at the last minute after finding out that another flight would be cheaper.

In a Twitter message on Thursday, De Jonge said: “Had I departed today, then…”

During his interview with RTV Oost, De Jonge said that he had also been planning to travel on flight MH370, the airliner which mysteriously vanished somewhere over the Indian Ocean on March and still remains missing.

In a statement on his website, he said despite the media attention to his story, the focus should be on the victims and their families.

“How happy I am for myself and my family that I was on this flight and did not take it the last moment; my story is ultimately nothing compared to the misery in which so many people are dead,” he said.

De Jonge added that his lucky escape would not stop him from flying on the troubled Malaysian carrier and that he will continue to travel with the airline.

“You should try not to worry too much because then you won't get anywhere,” he told RTV Oost. “I have been lucky twice, this will be the third time as well.”

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