VIENNA (Reuters) - Lufthansa unit Austrian Airlines restarted flights to the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kharkov and Dnipropetrovsk on Friday that had been suspended after the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet in the region in July.

The decision came amid "close coordination with the Ukrainian authorities and on the basis of regular reviews of the local security situation", it said in a statement.

Routes approved by Ukrainian authorities run west of the two cities, placing them beyond combat zones in eastern Ukraine that Austrian Airlines continues to avoid, it added.

The government in Kiev is trying to put down a revolt by pro-Russian separatists in the region. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine in July, killing all 298 people on board.

Austrian Airlines also flies to Kiev and Lviv in Ukraine.

"The safety of passengers and crew is the highest priority. Austrian Airlines is in constant contact with the competent authorities and airports and evaluates the security situation continuously," it said.


(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Victoria Bryan)