British flyers heading to Asia should start taking a look at their travel times from now on because they’re going to go up. Currently, flights from the UK to Asia can take an hour longer than usual due to detours in the air. Making things worse is the fact that passengers are not informed about these detours in advance.
For flyers who’ve booked separate connecting flights, it means the possibility of even missing a connection. In a recent case, a passenger who had an outbound flight with Singapore Airline had to face a delay of 30 mins despite taking off ahead of schedule. It was believed that the flight was incident-free, which ideally meant that the journey should have ended on time.
But, according to the passenger, the delay occurred anyway and no one was even informed as to why it occurred.
To make things worse, the passenger’s return flight arrived an hour behind schedule. However, this time, there was an announcement from the pilot. Apparently, a detour had to be made due to closed airspaces.
Closed air spaces
Closed air spaces are the primary cause of the current issue. Pakistan, for instance, has restricted its airspace over tensions with its neighbour, India. This led to several flights being cancelled at the last minute.
The airspace over Pakistan still remains restricted, which is forcing carriers to make adjustments to their standard routes. This leads to many flights passing through the same alternative route, which increases congestion and causes delays
The sudden closure of airspaces also prevents airlines from updating their schedules on time.
A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines told the media that it was operating its flights as per schedule, especially its UK to Singapore routes. However, the airline added that schedules are affected by a range of factors, including traffic and airspace conditions.
The airline also explicitly mentioned that it would not be flying over Pakistani airspace for the time being.
Not the only airline
Singapore Airline is just one of many affected by the airspace closure. Though some airlines are managing to inform passengers well in advance, this isn’t the norm. So, the onus is on the customers to check and update themselves regarding their flight schedules.
Thai Airways is one of the Asian operators to be significantly impacted by the closure. The carrier has now created a section on the company website that lists cancelled flights and affected routes. However, the airline still doesn’t offer information at the time of booking tickets.
British Airways has also been affected.
A spokesperson for BA issued a statement about continuing to operate all flights. However, like the rest, they too will be re-routing around Pakistani airspace. This is likely to cause minor delays.
The airline announced that it would keep passengers informed whenever possible.
Similarly, Eva Air’s flights from/to Taipei and London, Vienna, Paris, and Amsterdam have also been affected. The carrier has put up a notice on its website at the point of booking and passengers are even redirected to another page where they can see the list of affected flights.