Airlines are experiencing higher operational costs as they try to reroute flights over Iran and Iraq in the aftermath of Iran’s firing of missiles at US bases.
In an unexpected turn of events, a Ukrainian passenger jet a 737-800 crashed shortly on take-off at Tehran killing 167 passengers and nine crew members on early Wednesday. Iranian officials say that the crash was due a mechanical issue but refused to offer explanation as investigations were still going on. Earlier, Iran declared that this is the result of Boeing refusing spares for maintenance owing to the US imposed embargo on the country.
However, with speculation rife that the Ukrainian jetliner was shot down being mistaken as a US aircraft, both leaders of Canada and the UK have called for a thorough investigation.
Around the world, almost all airlines with the exception of Etihad Airlines, Qatar Airways and Emirates Airlines, have redirected from flying over the region. The shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 by a missile at as it flew over Ukraine killing all 298 passengers’ serves as an important reminder to the industry operators.
Independent aviation consultant, John Strickland, commented that longer trips would result in the disruption in flight schedules as well higher operational costs.
On the average, airline fare costs $50 before any flight distance is taken into account plus 7 to 8 cents per seat mile for low cost carriers and 11 to 12 cents for network carriers.
Founder of OPSGROUP, Mark Zee, said that this rerouting to avoid the Iranian and Iraq airspace could lead to an additional 40 minutes for trips from Europe to Asia. OPSGROUP represents a group of people with common interest in the industry getting together to make flying safer.
According to Reuters, a detour made by Australia’s Qantas Airways would involve making an additional 50 minutes in its flight time from Perth to London. This means airlines would be forced to reduce the number of passengers, in order to carry more fuel to cover the distance.
Due to the tensions in the fly zone, many carriers have started rerouting their flights including Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Air Canada and Taiwan’s China Airlines. British Airways have announced that only a small portion of their flights would be affected by the rerouting.
Meanwhile, U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAMS) declaring a no-fly zone over Iraq and Iran along with the nearby waters such as Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. A warning has also been issued on the “potential for miscalculation or mis-identification” for civilian aircrafts flying in the region.
Meanwhile, an international aviation team for the “effective coordination and communication” between airlines and countries has been assembled.
The team is formed as a standard precautionary protocol and is operated by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The team would identify potential flying risks and ensure information is shared quickly.