‘A worrying development’ in air travel

The suspected shooting down of a large passenger plane while flying at altitude presents airlines and their passengers with an extremely serious new development in air travel, according to aviation experts.

They also question the future of Malaysia Airlines — caught in the global glare of bad publicity following the disappearance of flight MH370 earlier this year.

Ukraine’s airspace could well be closed down as a result of yesterday’s incident, meaning diversions for worldwide carriers.

“This could be a very serious development,” said David Kaminski-Morrow, air transport editor of Flightglobal magazine.

“If reports are true, we are not talking about small-arm fire but serious weaponry. Normally even if planes fly over a war zone they can go high enough for the conflict not to be a worry.”

He added: “It’s really quite incredible that it should be Malaysia Airlines involved in this, after what happened earlier in the year.

“This is not a small airline on a faraway route. This was a major airline flying from a European destination to a capital in the Far East. There must be serious concerns about how the airline can recover from this.”

Norman Shanks, a former head of group security at airports group BAA, and professor of aviation security at Coventry University, said there had been suggestions airlines had been warned to avoid the route because of the violence below.

“But Malaysia Airlines, like a number of other carriers, have been continuing to use it because it is a shorter route, which means less fuel and therefore less money,” Shanks said.

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