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Wendy is an IFE Agent responsible for aggregating airline news specifically related to Inflight entertainment. She compiles stories relevant to business travelers, airline industry folks, marketers and tech geeks. IFE News doesn't create original content, but rather posts compelling editorial from global media outlets.

Crash of Malaysian Jet Shakes Business Travel

ON any given day, there are about 100,000 commercial airline flights, flying more than 50,000 separate routes, around a world where armed conflict is always occurring, somewhere.

As companies send business travelers on assignments that often venture into — and even more often over — dangerous areas, employers have become ever more cognizant of a legal and ethical issue called duty of care. This means, basically, that employers need to take reasonable precautions to ensure a “safe working environment” for travelers as it is described in a 2012 report, “Duty of Care: Are You Covered?” by the corporate risk-management and security company iJet. This includes evaluating security conditions in destination countries, knowing their employees’ whereabouts and keeping in contact.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announces that two black boxes from the downed Malaysia Airlines flight will be handed over by Ukrainian rebels.
But the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last Thursday near the Ukraine border could add a new factor for employers and “has considerable implications for companies and business-travel managers responsible for duty of care,” said Greeley Koch, the executive director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives. “Will it now be necessary for travel departments to make sure that preferred carriers do not overfly war zones, areas of civil conflict or regions of crisis?”

That, of course, would be a tall order, but the downing of the commercial airliner, evidently by a sophisticated military surface-to-air missile capable of hitting planes at high altitudes, underlines growing complexities in duty-of-care matters. While obviously no airline or company deliberately puts people at risk, “sometimes new risks are identified and steps have to be taken,” Mr. Koch said.

It isn’t clear what those steps might be, but travel managers have told the association that they are evaluating the specific air-travel issues raised by the Flight 17 disaster. Top among these are questions about the prudence of flying over a troubled region where combatants had recently shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane at about 21,000 feet. While there had been international aviation prohibitions on flying over Crimea, farther south, the operative orders for the area where Flight 17 was downed said that the route was safe for flying — at over 32,000 feet. Flight 17, bound from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was at 33,000 feet, on a standard airway heavily used until recently by hundreds of flights between northern Europe and Asia.

“This is a well-established international route,” said Anthony C. Roman, a security consultant who is also a former commercial pilot and flight instructor. “It’s regularly traversed by other airlines. However, in April, the European aviation authorities issued warnings to member states that the Crimea area should be avoided. In May, the F.A.A. actually restricted flights over Crimea itself and warned about eastern Ukraine.”

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