Industry

Missile attack on MH-17 raises new challenges for airline industry

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Malaysia Airlines MH-17 plane crash over Ukraine has not impacted traffic, say experts

The first of its kind missile attack on a commercial aircraft has highlighted the risks to passengers when airliners fly over conflict zones, said experts calling for concerted global effort to curb any possible menace.

They said >the fatal incident involving Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 that occurred over Ukraine airspace on Thursday, could happen to any other airline in conflict zones of Iraq, Afghanistan and even Pakistan where terrorists could deploy similar warfare to bring down passenger planes.

The use of surface-to-air missile to bring down a commercial plane has added new dimension to global terrorism, they said.

“A key strategic challenge has arisen for airlines flying over troubled regions. Thursday’s surface to air missile attack, though rare, has the possibility of getting repeated by extremist elements,” said Kapil Kaul, Chief Executive Officer, South Asia, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA).

“Counter measures are urgently required to ensure that such incident do not repeat again. Global coordination and efforts need to be put in place,” Mr Kaul said.

“A new threat has emerged for the airline industry which will now have to devise security measures to protect its customers, reputation and equipment,” said an airline safety expert.

“While flying over 33,000 ft we don’t know what is coming from the ground,” he said.

Jet Airways has been avoiding Ukraine airspace. “None of our flights to and from Europe fly through the Ukrainian airspace ever since the conflict began and we continue to avoid the Ukrainian airspace,” Jet Airways said. Air India has reportedly decided to avoid this route while flying to Europe.

Hours after Malaysia Airlines plane went down, >SpiceJet temporarily suspended flights to and from Kabul, another troubled area. In a fortnight Kabul airport has seen two rocket attacks and SpiceJet does not want to take any chances.

The Malaysia Airlines plane crash, the second in five months, has however, not impacted air traffic to Malaysia and Europe, top travel firm executives said adding that they had not seen any major cancellation.

“I don’t see any impact on insurance costs or traffic but sentiment impact will remain for some time as this was the second major fatal accident, unfortunately, involving in both cases with Malaysia Airline,” Mr Kaul said.

“Travellers are cognizant of the fact that this tragic incident over a conflict zone was carrier neutral, and we have seen no cancellations for either Malaysia Airline or destination Malaysia. Additionally, the immediate change in route plans by international carriers and civil aviation authorities has been of value in countering consumer sentiment,” Madhavan Menon, Managing Director, Thomas Cook India Ltd.

“The incident has not had any impact on travel and tourism and so far people have not cancelled their holidays,” said Karan Anand, Head, Relationships, Cox & Kings.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 10:29:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/missile-attack-on-mh17-raises-new-challenges-for-airline-industry/article6228995.ece

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