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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Stopovers loom for US-bound flights over war detours

Stopovers loom for US-bound flights over war detours

Hong Kong and mainland flights to the United States may take up to two hours longer and some direct flights may have to be turned into ones involving transits if they cannot fly across Russian airspace, an aviation expert says.
His comments came after news reports that American airlines are stepping up a lobbying campaign for a ban on all US-bound flights flying across Russian airspace in the wake of US airlines being stopped from flying over Russia airspace amid safety concerns sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

However, major competitors China Eastern Airlines, Air India and Emirates are still allowed to fly across Russian airspace, making the flights faster and cheaper. Countries like the United States have banned their airlines from flying over Russia, and Russia also prohibited US airlines from using its airspace

Cathay Pacific operates flights from New York to Hong Kong using the polar route, which flies over Russian space.

Andrew Yuen Chi-lok, a senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong's department of decision sciences and managerial economics, who specializes in aviation and maritime matters, said derouting from Russian airspace will cost airlines longer flight hours and more fuel.

As cabin crew must observe a restriction on working hours, some US-bound direct flights - flying for up to 16 hours - may have to be canceled and travelers will have to take stopover flights to America, Yuen said.

An aviation veteran who wanted to remain anonymous told The Standard that flight crews to New York usually work about 16 hours.

"If the flight delays are two hours or more, our working hours will be over the limit as stated in the local aviation law," he said.

Chiu Yu-lok, a scholar in international studies, said he expected Washington to have more "petty moves" targeting China amid Sino-US tension.

But Chiu said the United States will not get the results it expects from banning all airlines flying over Russian airspace as the federation's external connections have not been seriously affected, while the relationship between China and Russia has become closer.

Asked whether Washington will ban flights from China to the United States from overflying Russia, he said the current proposal is more like "microphone diplomacy."

Chiu added: "Some actions are easier said than done as they require consideration in various aspects."

Chiu also said the United States is "a bit hysterical at the moment" and its behavior is against rational diplomacy.

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