Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 reportedly crashed over the volatile region in Ukraine where government forces have been battling pro-Russian separatists. Ukrainian officials have said the plane was shot down by the separatists, raising the possibility commercial aircrafts flying through the area could be vulnerable to potential ground to air attacks.
Even more worrying is the fact the planned path that brought MH17 near the disputed region, which is known as airway L980, is one of the most popular and most congested air routes in the world. L980 is a key link between major international hubs in Europe like London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schipol, and Frankfurt and Asian megacities like Singapore, Mumbai, and Hong Kong. In fact,the airspace over Ukraine is traveled by virtually every commercial flight from Western Europe to south Asia.
Because of this, the crash could have a significant effect on commercial airtravel with hundreds of flights expected to affected by this incident. For example, at just one hub, Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport, which was the origination point of MH17, there are dozens of flights either en route or scheduled to take L980 in the next 24 hours.
Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline has already rerouted its planes. An airline spokesperson, told Business Insider it ordered all flights to avoid Ukrainian airspace and divert south over Romania in light of the MH17 crash. Virgin Atlantic, KLM, and British Airways have not replied to our requests for information. However, recent radar images of Ukraine indicate that other airlines have already followed Lufthansa’s lead and ordered their planes to leave the area.