Security concerns in the Middle East are forcing airlines to reroute routes. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this is another noticeable intervention in the functioning of airlines, which must now look for other alternative routes. However, they are often more costly in terms of time and money, Bloomberg reported.
Israel’s national carrier El Al, which has stopped flying over most of the Arabian Peninsula, has to deal with the difficulties now. Due to the restrictions, he canceled regular lines to Tokyo, Japan, and his connections are often delayed, for example on flights to Bangkok. The vast majority of the world’s airlines stopped flying to Israel’s Tel Aviv, Germany’s Lufthansa also left Lebanon’s Beirut as a precaution.
However, the ongoing conflict in Israel also had a negative impact on global demand for international flights. The company ForwardKeys recently published an analysis according to which, in the period from October 7 this year, interest in flying across continents decreased by up to five percentage points month-on-month.
Travel to the Middle East has been a long-term problem for the world’s airlines. No-fly zones also exist over Syria and Yemen, American and British airlines also avoid Iranian airspace, and their routes to the east mostly lead through Iraq. If the current conflict in the Middle East continues to escalate and other states become involved, airlines would have additional concerns.
Even alternatives have their risks
An analysis by the consulting company Cirium shows that a potential escalation of the conflict could have a negative impact on up to 300 flights between Europe and Southeast Asia. Carriers probably have some alternatives, but even those would not be completely risk-free. It offers routes through Egypt, Armenia, Azerbaijan or around Afghanistan.
“A more extensive airspace closure would be really challenging for traffic planning,” Anne Agnem Correa, who is senior vice president of forecasting and modeling at consultancy MBA Aviation, told Bloomberg.
Flight times from the countries of the European Union, the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom to Asia have increased significantly already shortly after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. Because of this, Finnair Oyj has even reassessed its strategy for long-haul flights and is selling aircraft that cannot handle such a portion of kilometers. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has also been responded to by Air France, which is now requesting aircraft with a longer range than it originally expected.
The American Federal Aviation Administration published an analysis that every additional hour of flight increased the airline’s variable costs by 7,227 US dollars in 2021, which is roughly 160,000 crowns.
However, due to the high inflation of recent months, it is clear that this value will probably be even higher for the years 2022 and 2023. “Fuel and labor costs have increased since then,” aviation expert John Gradek, who lectures at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, told Bloomberg.