Airlines expected to follow Emirates lead in ditching Iraq route

Airlines could stop flying over Iraq amid fears that Islamic extremists operating in the country have missiles that could down a commercial airliner.

Emirates president Sir Tim Clark has announced that his airline will stop flying over the country and that he believes others will follow suit.

A key route for commercial flights heading east from the UK takes them directly over the Iraqi city of Mosul where a stronghold of militants in Isis.

Reports at the weekend said that intelligence services have expressed a “real concern” that Isis fighters may have acquired weapons similar to that which downed Malaysian Airlines’ MH17.

They are thought to have attained the technology capable of hitting an aircraft at 30,000 feet from Syrian stockpiles.

Clark said that all airlines will by the end of the year have a new system designed so they can share information about flight paths thought to be a problem.

And he said he expected to see greater input from governments offering advice, even if it meant one country warning about another’s airspace.

The Times reported Clark as saying: “This is a political animal…but the fact of the matter is MH17 changed everything, and that was very nearly in European airspace.

“We cannot continue to say ‘well it’s a political thing’. We have to do something. We have to take the bull by the horns.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Malaysia Airlines begins strategic review following tragedies

Malaysia Airlines begins strategic review following tragedies 

Malaysia Airlines could change its name as part of a brand overhaul after a missile struck one of its planes as it was flying over Ukraine.

According to reports, the airline is likely to seek new investors as it looks to restructure the brand following two major tragedies within six months.

The Malaysian flag carrier has begun work on a strategic review, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

The airline is also calling for a single global body to monitor threats and decide where civilian aircraft are allowed to fly.

Writing in the newspaper, the airline’s commercial director Hugh Dunleavy said the airline would eventually “emerge stronger” following the disappearance of flight MH370 in March and the downing of flight MH17 less than two weeks ago.

Plans for the airline include renaming and rebranding, the newspaper said.

He said: “Our majority shareholder, the Malaysian government, has already started a process of assessing the future shape of our business, and that process will now be speeded up as a result of MH17.

“There are several options on the table but all involve creating an airline fit for purpose in what is a new era for us, and other airlines.”

Dunleavy said that the airline industry needed to work together to prevent incidents in the future..

“MH17 was in airspace approved by ICAO [the International Civil Aviation Organisation],” he said.

“Its flight plan was approved by the Ukrainian authorities, as well as Eurocontrol. Yet still it was brought down, it seems, by a missile.

“This tragedy has taught us that despite following the guidelines and advice set out by the governing bodies, the skies above certain territories are simply not safe.

“MH17 has shown us that airlines can no longer rely on existing industry bodies for this information.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Pilots’ association urges relaxation of intelligence sharing rules

Pilots' association urges relaxation of intelligence sharing rulesThe European pilots’ association is urging airlines and stakeholders to share intelligence and security information with other airlines to help prevent tragedies like the MH17.

The European Cockpit Association (ECA) believes a thorough analysis of the industry’s approach to risk assessment and high-level international intelligence sharing needs to be addressed.

The call comes after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was brought down over Ukraine last week after apparently being hit by a missile at 33,000 feet.

Nico Voorbach, ECA President, said: ““We share the public outrage over MH17, and we owe it to the passengers and crew who lost their lives, and all our future passengers, to see past this and focus on prevention first and foremost.

“MH17 exposed a significant weakness – if not a failure – of international threat and risk assessment in civil aviation.

“In hindsight flying civilian aircraft over an area where powerful anti-aircraft systems capable of bringing down an airliner at cruising altitude are in active use is not acceptable.”

The association said some airlines could have access to good intelligence and advice from their country’s national security services, while other carriers are left at greater risk.

ECA said it appeared likely some restrictions may be placed on what intelligence an airline can share with other airlines.

“We must ask governments what those restrictions might be, and how we can ensure that the airlines are able to share information in such a way that the highest levels of risk avoidance can be rolled out to all,” the association said.

It said future prevention required “immediate attention and our long-term thinking” and is pushing for an analysis of the industry’s approach to risk assessment and sharing intelligence between airlines.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


FAA temporarily suspends flights to Ben Gurion International

 

FAA temporarily suspends flights to Ben Gurion International

 

The United States Federal Aviation Authority has prohibited American airlines from flying to or from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport until 12:15 today.

The notice was issued in response to a rocket strike which landed approximately one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport on the morning of July 22nd, 2014.

The Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) applies only to US operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport.

The FAA immediately notified US carriers when the agency learned of the rocket strike and informed them that the agency was finalising a NOTAM.

A statement explained the FAA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation, with further restrictions possible.

Europe’s aviation regulator is also urging airlines not to fly to Tel Aviv.

Lufthansa – which includes Swiss, Germanwings and Austrian Airlines – confirmed it had decided to suspend flights to Israel for two days, while KLM, Air France, easyJet, Air Canada and Alitalia are among other carriers to have cancelled departures.

The halt in service comes less than a week after Israel began a ground operation in Gaza.

Airlines around the world are also revaluating flight paths over conflict areas following the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine.

Sourced from Breaking Travel News


Special Report: ‘The trade will pull us through this tragedy’

Special Report: 'The trade will pull us through this tragedy'Malaysia Airlines’ UK boss Weng Chi Lee says the carrier is doing ‘everything it can to rebuild confidence’. Ian Taylor reports

 

The bodies of 282 of the 298 victims of the Malaysia Airlines disaster in Ukraine were being transported to Amsterdam as Travel Weekly went to press, although investigators had yet to gain full access to the crash site.

A deal with leaders of the breakaway eastern Ukraine resulted in the handover of black box recorders from flight MH17, which appears to have been shot down last Thursday on the way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The evidence appeared to point to Russian-backed rebels shooting down the aircraft, as Malaysia prime minister Najib Razak announced the black boxes would “be held securely while an international investigation team 
is formalised”.

Airline association Iata denounced the disaster as “a hideous crime”, noting: “MH17 was a clearly identified commercial jet … shot down while broadcasting its identity and presence on an open and busy air corridor at an altitude deemed safe.”

Sadly, for the second time in four months – following the still-unexplained disappearance of flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March – Malaysia Airlines must deal with the fall-out from a tragedy it could do nothing to prevent.

The carrier acted quickly to do what it could, offering full refunds to anyone wishing to cancel a booking between now and the end of the year.

Passengers had until Thursday this week to cancel without charge, after which the airline will assess claims case by case.

Malaysia Airlines UK and Ireland area manager Weng Chi Lee said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those affected. Our primary focus is the care and attention we are providing to them.”

There were 10 British nationals onboard the flight when it was brought down and the carrier has offered to fly the relatives and friends of those lost to Amsterdam.

Support for families

Weng said: “We are in continual contact with them, providing support and keeping them informed.”

It is indecently early to look beyond the immediate concerns of the loved ones of those who died and Weng repeatedly emphasised that single point: “Our focus is the family and friends.”

But he also sought to thank the trade for the messages of support the carrier has received. “The trade has responded with overwhelming support and we thank it,” he said.

“We are in constant contact with our 50-60 primary agents. Our phone lines have not closed. It is not business as usual, but we continue to take calls.”

Malaysia Airlines operates two A380 flights a day from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur and Weng said: “The flights are still full. Bookings are still coming in. We have not heard of anyone fearful of selling or marketing Malaysia Airlines.”

Low cancellation rates

He said the extraordinary refund policy had led to “a higher level of refunds than usual”, but added: “Cancellation rates are low.”

Weng insisted: “It is early days and our primary focus is the care of family and friends. [But] I believe the trade will pull us through.

“We will come out of this. We are the national carrier of Malaysia. We have been flying 42 years. We have a strong heritage and an extensive network. We have 360 departures a day flying 50,000 people. We are doing everything we can to rebuild confidence and trust. I am confident we will see this through.”

Weng confirmed all flights now avoid Ukraine but declined to speculate on what happened to MH17.

“We follow what air traffic controllers tell us,” he said.

The aircraft was on the most common route from Europe to southeast Asia when it crossed eastern Ukraine.

Eurocontrol, the pan-European air traffic control body, confirmed there were flight restrictions in place over the region last week, but only to an altitude of 32,000 feet, and MH17 was at 33,000 feet “when it disappeared from the radar”.

Unlimited restrictions now apply and Eurocontrol said: “The routes will remain closed until further notice.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Agents reassure long-haul clients as Malaysia Airlines offer refunds

Agents reassure long-haul clients as Malaysia Airlines offer refunds 

The trade responded to the Malaysia Airlines tragedy by offering clients reassurance and alternative flights.

The airline offered full refunds, including for tickets classed as non‑refundable, up to the end of this year, and waived fees for itinerary changes made by Thursday this week.

Agents and operators immediately contacted clients after Thursday’s disaster, when an Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight was apparently shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 passengers and crew.

Travel Designers managing director Nick Harding‑McKay said some clients had requested not to fly with Malaysia Airlines on new bookings. “This is such a shame,” he added.

Derek Moore, chairman of the Association of Independent Tour Operators, said some members had clients who asked to cancel holidays.

Abta has taken calls from operators about the cost of changing airline or cancelling accommodation. It said: “Operators can pass on these extra costs to clients.”

But Travel 2 managing director Andy Freeth said: “We’ve had very few calls on this. I think consumers are aware it’s not the airline that has been targeted.”

Claire Hunt, operations director of Journeys A La Carte travel agency, had three future bookings for Malaysia Airlines, but clients chose not to switch airline. She added: “It took a morning to sort out, but this is what we’re good at.”

David Moon, head of business development at Advantage, was not aware of any members who had issued refunds.

Miles Morgan Travel owner Miles Morgan added: “In reality people know security will now be at its tightest.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Airlines demand new rules for flights over war zones

Airlines demand new rules for flights over war zonesImage via Shutterstock

Revised safety protocols for the routeing of airlines over war zones have been demanded following last week’s shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The downing of the Boeing 777, killing all 298 people onboard including 10 Brits, is widely assumed to have been the result of a missile strike by Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists.

The aircraft was flying a route avoided by some airlines, including British Airways, but at 33,000ft was operating at a higher altitude than officially restricted airspace.

All commercial flights have now been barred from eastern Ukraine.

Schiphol Steph

The scene at Schiphol airport yesterday (Tuesday)


The incident prompted a furious response from Emirates president Tim Clark. He said: “The international airline community needs to respond. It needs to say this is absolutely not acceptable and outrageous, and that it won’t tolerate being targeted in internecine regional conflicts.”

Clark suggested Iata and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a United Nations body, should intervene.

“I think there will have to be new protocols and it will be up to ICAO and Iata and the aviation community to sort out what the protocols have to be.”

Aviation analyst John Strickland, of JLS Consulting, said if someone as influential as Clark was calling for change, it was likely to happen.

“This is going to lead to world bodies like Iata and industry safety groups working to get a clearer and more precise position on any types of risk,” he said.

Clark’s call for new protocols was echoed by Lufthansa.

An Iata spokesman said: “Governments will need to take the lead in reviewing how airspace risk assessments are made. And the industry will do all that it can to support governments, through ICAO, in the difficult work ahead.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Light aircraft ‘with smoke coming from it’ forced into emergency landing on Swansea beach

A plane has crash landed on the beach next to the under-construction Swansea University second campus

BBC Wales

The light aircraft that crash landed on a beach in Swansea

A pilot and two passengers escaped unharmed this afternoon after their plane crash-landed on the beach next to Swansea University’s under-construction Bay Campus.

People working at the £200m campus off Swansea’s Fabian Way on the main eastern approach road to Swansea reported seeing “a light aircraft with smoke coming from it” go down in sand dunes next to the sprawling Swansea University second campus building site.

However, the pilot managed to land the plane safely.

It is understood the plane was being rented by a holidaymaker from North Yorkshire who is a hobby pilot.

The aircraft’s owner Derek Clyde, from Kidwelly, a member of the Cambrian flying club said the plane had suffered an engine leak.

He said: “It is just one of those things. There was an engine leak. I take my hat off to the pilot. He made a perfect landing.

“It was the only place he could land. I’m glad nobody was hurt. But now we’ve got the problem of moving this before high tide.”

BBC WalesThe light aircraft that crash landed on a beach in Swansea

The light aircraft that crash landed on a beach in Swansea

A South Wales Police spokesman said: “Emergency services were called to Jersey Marine at around 4pm today following reports that a light aircraft had performed an emergency landing on the beach. Three people on board were uninjured.”

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service was also called to the scene and sent one crew from its Swansea station but a spokesman for the service said the officers were not needed at the scene and added at 6pm that the fire crew had left the scene.

Sourced from walesonline


Light aircraft ‘with smoke coming from it’ crash lands on Swansea beach

 

A plane has crash landed on the beach next to the under-construction Swansea University second campus

The under construction campus at Swansea Bay

A pilot and two passengers have escaped unharmed this afternoon after their plane crash-landed on the beach next to Swansea University’s under-construction Bay Campus.

People working at the £200m campus off Swansea’s Fabian Way on the main eastern approach road to Swansea reported seeing “a light aircraft with smoke coming from it” go down in sand dunes next to the sprawling Swansea University second campus building site.

However, the pilot managed to land the plane safely.

A South Wales Police spokesman said: “Emergency services were called to Jersey Marine at around 4pm today following reports that a light aircraft had performed an emergency landing on the beach. Three people on board were uninjured.”

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service was also called to the scene and sent one crew from its Swansea station but a spokesman for the service said the officers were not needed at the scene and added at 6pm that the fire crew had left the scene.

Sourced from walesonline


Pilots voice concerns over shooting down of flight MH17

Pilots voice concerns over shooting down of flight MH17

Ten Britons have now been confirmed as having died in the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) aircraft whichcame down in strife-torn Ukraine last week.

It is believed a ground-to-air missile which was fired from the rebel held territory was responsible for bringing down the Boeing 777 which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The UK, France and Germany have warned that further sanctions could be imposed on Russia unless air accident investigators are allowed full access to the crash site.

International investigators have still not been given free access to the site four days after the aircraft crashed, killing all 298 people on board.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association voiced its concern over the tragedy.

A spokesman said: “British pilots express their condolences to the families of the passengers and crew aboard MH17. For whatever reason they appear to have become innocent victims in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

“Civil aviation should never be allowed to become a part of conflict and be threatened in this way. The apparent shooting down of this aircraft is therefore of extreme concern to pilots.

“We note that action has been taken by many airlines and authorities to avoid this area.  We hope that the conflict in the area does not hamper the ability of the investigatory authorities to determine the exact cause of the crash and any persons who are responsible.”

MAS said yesterday: “There are no changes to the frequency of our services and we will continue to operate daily services between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur.”

However, the flight number MH17 has been withdrawn “out of respect for our crew and passengers of the mentioned flight code”.

It has been replaced with flight number MH19.

MAS said any passenger booked to travel by the end of the year who no longer wishes to fly may apply by Thursday for a full refund, even if they have booked restricted fares.

The carrier said: “Passengers who wish to postpone or cancel their travel plans can obtain a refund, including for non-refundable tickets.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


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