In the wake of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 tragedy in which the commercial airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine, travelers and business travel departments are becoming increasingly concerned to whether their next flight could be headed through an area of turmoil.
According to The Wall Street Journal, travel management companies as well as security consultants are searching for flights that aren't heading over war zones using sources that can inform them of exact flight paths that are taken on any given day and will also provide information as to whether or not an airline regularly avoids certain regions.
The source reported that airlines regularly fly over areas including Baghdad. There are currently 41 kinetic conflicts, or situations where people are shooting at each other, across the globe. However, while the majority of this conflicts are localized, the incident regarding MH Flight 17 has caused an uproar in the travel industry, especially with corporations who regularly send employees out on global travel trips.
iJet International Inc. provides information to corporate travel departments and airlines on situations such as what's going on in Ukraine as well as other parts of the world like the Middle east.
It's ultimately up to the airlines as to the route that flights will take. These paths are based mostly on weather forecasts and winds. However, if conditions are proving to be unfavorable, carriers will use alternate routes, but they typically want to remain on the most economical routes.
According to The Wall Street Journal, several airlines were flying over war-torn eastern Ukraine in the days leading up to the Malaysia Airlines disaster, but Michael McCormick of the Global Business Travel Association said that the incident served as a wake-up call for companies and even individual travelers to begin evaluating flight-path risk on their own rather than relying on the airlines to do so.
"The reality is companies send travelers to every corner of the world and we can't make that assumption anymore that airlines are looking after this part of security," McCormick told The Wall Street Journal.
The thing to remember is that sometimes, flight space in particular regions hasn't been deemed dangerous, as was the case with the part of eastern Ukraine in which Flight 17 flew over. Although the region had not been officially designated as dangerous for commercial jets, carriers including British Airways, Qantas and Cathay Pacific were already avoiding Ukrainian airspace for months, The Guardian reported. In addition, Korean Air Lines, Air Berlin, Asiana Airlines and China Airlines were also avoiding the route that sent planes through east Ukraine.
On July 22, the Federal Aviation Administration decided to temporarily suspect flights in and out of Tel Aviv when a rocket landed near the city's hub. When this happened, The Wall Street Journal reported that a Delta Air Lines plane en route to the Israeli city turned around mid-flight and returned to Paris.
Websites like FlightAware.com and Flightrader24.com provide information that's collected from air-traffic control agencies to give travelers up to date information on the paths planes are taking.
Immediately after the crash of Flight 17, websites like these were showing how airlines were almost completely avoiding Ukrainian airspace.