Planes Rerouted After Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 Crash: What You Need to Know

On Thursday, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in east Ukraine. Ukrainian officials called the crash an act of terrorism, saying the plane may have been shot down.

In response, many airlines are rerouting their flights to avoid Ukrainian airspace.  

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A map of planes moving out of Ukrainian airspace (Photo: FlightRadar24/Twitter)

According to Reuters, Air France was one of the first airlines to release a statement about impending changes to their flight paths after Thursday’s incident. “Air France is monitoring the situation in real time and decided to no longer fly over eastern Ukraine after it was informed of this incident,” a spokesman for Air France said.

And they’re not alone.

A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines confirmed that their airline does not use Ukrainian airspace. British Airways says they aren’t using Ukrainian airspace, with the exception of their once-a-day service between Heathrow and Kiev. And Lufthansa Airlines is taking extra precautions given recent events. “Up to now there has been no closure of Ukrainian airspace,” said Lufthansa corporate communications. “However, Lufthansa has decided to fly a wide detour around east Ukrainian airspace with immediate effect.”

George Hobica from Airfare Watchdog says the diversions won’t dramatically affect passengers. “It probably only means a matter of 15 to 30 minutes added to the fight, says Hobica. “The cost of flying shouldn’t really be affected either. It will require more fuel, but airlines will likely just absorb that cost.”

The Malaysian flight was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam and was flying over the region that has recently seen deadly fighting between Ukraine and Russian forces. 

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Malaysia Airlines planes parked at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia (Photo: AP)

There are several places around the world currently in conflict, and the turmoil on the ground usually has a negative impact on air travel. As you plan your next international vacation, it is important to know if your flight will travel through the dangerous airspace of a region in conflict.

Here is a short list of some countries that are currently in conflict:

Syria

The US contemplated labeling Syria a no-fly zone, but officials have not come to an agreement. Nevertheless, the well-funded rebels in this country are armed with shoulder-fired missiles that can shoot down jets. 

 Iraq

Two no-fly zones were deactivated in 2003, yet turmoil in the country caused by the rebel Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) makes this region and corresponding airspace dangerous. 

Libya

In March 2011, The UN Security Council approved a no-fly zone over Libya restricting all flights, except those for humanitarian purpose, from flying over the country. The no-fly zone was terminated later that year, however, flying over this country is still discouraged.

East China Sea

Japan and China have been in dispute over a chain of islands between their countries since the 1880’s.  And in 2013, China created an “Air Defense Identification Zone,” which means that unidentified flying in that airspace are liable to be interrogated, and if necessary, intercepted.

Additionally, here are a few apps that will help you determine your flight’s path. 

FlightAware

FlightAware currently provides private aviation flight tracking in over 45 countries across North America, Europe, and Oceania. 

Flight Radar24

Turns your phone into an air-traffic radar that allows you to see planes around the world moving in real time. 

Flight Track 5

FlightTrack Pro allows you to track flights around the globe in terms of accuracy and efficiency.

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