Shooting down of Malaysia Airlines plane could force airlines into costly route changes

Published: July 18, 2014


Picture 1 of 21

A picture taken on July 17, 2014 shows bodies amongst the wreckages of the malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels fighting central Kiev authorities claimed on Thursday that the Malaysian airline that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by a Ukrainian jet. The head of Ukraine's air traffic control agency said Thursday that the crew of the Malaysia Airlines jet that crashed in the separatist east had reported no problems during flight. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGETDOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

DAVID KOENIG and SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The possibility that the civilian jetliner downed over war-torn eastern Ukraine with nearly 300 people onboard was hit by a missile could have profound consequences for the world’s airlines.

Airlines might have to be more vigilant about avoiding trouble spots, making flights longer and causing them to burn more costly fuel, an extra expense that is often passed onto passengers through higher fares. They may even be forced to reconsider many international routes.

In the hours after Thursday’s disaster involving a Malaysia Airlines jet, carriers around the globe began rerouting flights to avoid Ukraine. Some had been circumventing the country for weeks. Experts questioned the airline’s decision to fly near the fighting, even as Malaysia’s prime minister said that the plane’s route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was declared safe by international aviation authorities.

“I find it pretty remarkable that a civil airline company — if this aircraft was on the flight plan — that they are flight-planning over an area like that,” said Robert Francis, a former vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Violence in Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russia rebels in the country’s east erupted a month after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March. Earlier this week, the rebels claimed responsibility for hitting a Ukrainian military jet with a portable surface-to-air missile; the pilot was able to land safely. And the government charged that a military transport plane was shot down by a missile fired from Russian territory.

In April, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cautioned airlines that Russia’s claim to the airspace over Ukraine’s Crimea could lead to conflicting air traffic control instructions. A few weeks later, the FAA issued a tougher warning, telling pilots not to fly over the area, and the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization told governments to warn their airlines. Thursday’s crash, however, occurred outside the warning areas.

Thomas Routh, an aviation attorney in Chicago, said it would be unusual for an airline to ignore such warnings, but he said it’s up to airlines to decide whether a flight will be safe for crew and passengers.

“There are airlines flying through Afghanistan airspace every day,” Routh said.

John Cox, a former airline pilot and accident investigator, said despite the cautions, the airspace was not closed. The Malaysia Airlines crew filed a flight plan and “Russia and the Ukraine both accepted the airplane into their airspace,” he said.

Rerouting planes around war zones costs airlines money, as the planes burn more expensive jet fuel. Aviation expert Norman Shanks said many airlines continued to fly over Ukraine despite warnings because it offered a shorter route that saved money on fuel.

Greg Raiff, an aviation consultant in New Hampshire, said that if airlines must avoid flying over all the world’s hot spots, flight times would be extended, requiring extra fuel and pilots. That might make some routes uneconomical, forcing airlines to abandon them.

Airlines quickly changed some routes. Snapshots from flight-tracking services showed dense traffic to the west, light traffic to the east, but very few planes over Ukraine.

Emirates airlines said that one of its jets bound for Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv turned around and returned to Dubai. The airline suspended all flights to Kyiv indefinitely. It emphasized that flights to and from the U.S. and other European destinations don’t fly over the area where the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 crashed.

Germany’s Lufthansa immediately rerouted all overflights to avoid eastern Ukraine, although flights to Kyiv and Odesa were not affected. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said that none of its flights operated over the portion of Ukraine covered by the FAA security advisory, but added that it would stop routing flights over any part of the country. India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation said Air India and Jet Airways would divert flights away from Ukraine.

Airlines don’t always risk flying over conflict areas.

Australia’s Qantas stopped flying over Ukraine several months ago and shifted its London-Dubai route 645 kilometres (400 miles) to the south. A spokeswoman declined to explain the change. Korean Air Line said it had rerouted cargo and passenger flights in early March amid the worsening situation over the Crimean peninsula.

Emirates stopped flying over parts of Syria as a civil war there expanded. Some airlines have curtailed service in Iraq, where violence has escalated between the government and a jihadist militant group. Some of the other places that the FAA also currently warns pilots to avoid parts of include Iran, Yemen, the Sinai peninsula and North Korea.

Last month, a gunman in Pakistan fired on a jetliner that was landing in Peshawar, part of the country’s volatile northwest region, killing a passenger and wounding two other people. Emirates suspended flights to Peshawar, and other carriers cancelled some flights while they reviewed airport security. Two weeks before that, gunmen attacked the country’s busiest airport in Karachi.

Related Stories:

——

Joan Lowy and Sagar Meghani in Washington and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.

10:34ET 18-07-14

[+]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Readers Comments (0)

Comments are closed.

Featured

Screen shot of Shah Rukh Khan's first video tweet. Submitted.

Shah Rukh Khan sends out India’s first tweet using Twitter’s new mobile video camera

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was the first-ever Indian to use Twitter’s freshly launched mobile video camera. Twitter announced the new feature on…
Continue Reading »

Amanda Todd is shown in an undated handout photo. The man accused in the cyberbullying case of British Columbia teen Amanda Todd has denied the allegations against him in a letter released by his lawyer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Facebook, HO

‘First off, I’m innocent’: Dutch man accused in Amanda Todd extortion case writes open letter saying he’s the wrong guy

SUSAN LAZARUK VANCOUVER DESI The Dutch man suspected of online extortion in the Amanda Todd case has released a letter from jail, to tell the…
Continue Reading »

Indian spectators watch as a float carrying a sign that reads "Congratulations! It's a Baby Girl" passes by during the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2015. The float represented India's Ministry of Women and Child Development.  An estimated 26 million babies are born anually in India, a country considered to be one of the worst places to be born a girl because of a societal 'gender gap' that favours boys and preferences for male children.  ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

India’s Supreme Court bans online advertisements for pre-birth sex tests

VANCOUVER DESI India’s Supreme Court has ordered Internet giants Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to block all advertisements for pre-birth tests that determine a child’s gender,…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Amanda Todd is shown in an undated handout photo. The man accused in the cyberbullying case of British Columbia teen Amanda Todd has denied the allegations against him in a letter released by his lawyer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Facebook, HO

‘First off, I’m innocent’: Dutch man accused in Amanda Todd extortion case writes open letter saying he’s the wrong guy

SUSAN LAZARUK VANCOUVER DESI The Dutch man suspected of online extortion in the Amanda Todd case has released a letter from jail, to tell the…
Continue Reading »

sethi

American Punjabi rapper feels at home in Vancouver

Collaborative hip hop and artistic group Char Bagh set to play the PuSh Festival on Saturday   LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI California-based MC and artist…
Continue Reading »

Al Paskall, husband of slain hockey mom Julie Paskall, was in Surrey Provincial court today during day one of her accused killer's preliminary hearing. Gord Goble/Surrey Now.

‘I wasn’t there when I should’ve been,’ husband of slain Surrey hockey mom says in court

AMY REID SURREY NOW “It should have been me.” More than a year after his high school sweetheart Julie Paskall lost her life following an…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Vancouver-BC

Raise your hand, send us a selfie and make a statement against racism (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver Desi’s digital anti-racism campaign, Raise Your Hands Against Racism, officially kicked off Thursday, with people across the Lower Mainland sending in selfies…
Continue Reading »

DEVGAN

Bollywood film that was to shoot in Alberta ‘indefinitely postponed’

ERIC VOLMERS CALGARY HERALD Don’t brush up your Bollywood dance moves yet, Alberta. Shivay, a Hindi film that was set to start filming in the Rocky Mountains…
Continue Reading »

File photo: The new Surrey City Hall in Surrey, B.C., December 29, 2014. Arlen Redekop/PNG

Surrey named one of top seven most intelligent communities in the world

AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — The City of Surrey has been named one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of 2015 by New York-based think…
Continue Reading »

FILE PHOTO: A leopard walks with a tranquiliser dart in the residential area of Jyotikuchi in Guwahati, the capital city of the northeastern state of Assam on March 15, 2009. Three people were mauled by the leopard after the cat strayed into the city before it was tranquilised by forestry department officials. BIJU BORO/AFP/Getty Images

Leopard in India beaten to death by villagers after vicious attack

IANS Kolkata  – A young male leopard was beaten to death by a mob of angry villagers on Monday after it strayed into a West…
Continue Reading »

prv0122Nfashion01

Passion for fashion turned into day job for Surrey clothing designer

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Surrey’s Davi Bains-Gill never thought her love for fashion and design could be her livelihood. She pursued a career in social…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Screen shot of Shah Rukh Khan's first video tweet. Submitted.

Shah Rukh Khan sends out India’s first tweet using Twitter’s new mobile video camera

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was the first-ever Indian to use Twitter’s freshly launched mobile video camera. Twitter announced the new feature on…
Continue Reading »

Sunny Leone posts a photo of her family vacation to her Instagram account. Submitted photo/Instagram.

Sunny Leone signed on to mentor participants of new social media reality show

HINDUSTAN TIMES Listed as India’s most-searched celebrity last year, the Internet has certainly played a crucial role in Indo Canadian porn star turned Bollywood actress…
Continue Reading »

image002.jpg

First sneak-peek of Bombay Velvet: Ranbir Kapoor a convincing street fighter

IANS New Delhi  – Donning ragged clothes with his hands wrapped in bandages, Ranbir Kapoor looks convincing as a street-fighter in his upcoming film Bombay…
Continue Reading »