Malaysia Airlines says its top priority at the moment is to contact the next of kin of those killed in the MH17 air disaster.

Malaysia Airlines is contacting the families of those killed when flight MH17 was apparently shot down over eastern Ukraine.

“The priority now is to get in contact with the next of kin and to take care of their wellbeing,” a spokesman told AAP from Malaysia on Friday.

He could not immediately confirm whether or not any Australian families had been contacted.

The government has now confirmed 27 Australians were killed on the plane travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

It was carrying 298 passengers and crew.

Ukrainian authorities lost contact with the plane MH17 at a quarter past midnight (AEST), approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.

Flights to and from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Darwin and Auckland will operate as scheduled.

However, the airline says all European flights will take alternative routes.

“With immediate effect, all European flights operated by Malaysia Airlines will be taking alternative routes avoiding the usual route,” it said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines is likely to go ahead with plans to fly a group of Australian journalists to Kuala Lumpur in August as part of a public relations campaign to restore confidence in the carrier after the disappearance of flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean in March.

“We are awaiting direction but at this stage it won’t be affected,” an Australian spokeswoman told AAP.