Airlines planning alternate routes for travel interruptions

August 21, 2014 |

If the United Nations follows through on its sanctions against Russia, the communist country has threatened to ban European and North American airlines from flying over Siberia. According to Bloomberg, carriers will have to use new routes to get to and from Asia.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are setting contingency plans in place should the routes be interrupted. Air France sends 249 flights each week through Siberian airspace followed by Lufthansa with 220 flights, Finnair with 11 and British Airways with 93. Other airlines that regularly travel routes over Siberia include Japan Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Air Canada, Air Nippon Airways and Scandinavian Airlines.

Not only would closing Siberian airspace be detrimental to the relations between Russia and it's Western allies, but it would also cost airlines and their travelers. The source reported that the route over Siberia is not only the shortest but also the cheapest.

Volcanic eruption could cause further air traffic disruptions

Airlines are also on alert as the threat of a volcanic eruption over Iceland looms. Carriers including Air France, Lufthansa and Delta Air Lines are keeping an eye out for Bardarbunga volcano eruption that could interfere with commercial air routes.

Bloomberg reported that the Civil Protection Agency in Iceland began evacuating the area north of the volcano on Aug. 19 after seismic activity raised concerns.

The volcano last erupted in 2010 and caused major disruptions as a cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, canceling more than 100,000 flights and results in $1.7 billion in lost revenue, according to the source.

If the volcano does spew ash clouds, airlines will have even more decisions to make after diverting many flights in recent weeks as to avoid war-torn regions, the threats from Russia and the Ebola outbreak. European airlines will be affected by an eruption the most as will American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines – the three biggest U.S. carriers.

"There is still no sign of this intrusion being on its way to the surface," Martin Hensch, a seismologist at the Icelandic Met Office, told Bloomberg. "It's still impossible to say whether or not the volcano will erupt, due to the simple fact that we can't predict what the developments in the next hours or days will be."

Using past experiences with volcanic eruptions, the travel industry will be better prepared to handle a situation should it arise, Bloomberg reported. Regardless of what happens, those going out on business travel and even vacation getaways may want to stay as informed as they can about these world events.