A cheap flight via Kiev – worth the risk?

One of our members this week asks a question that would have probably not got too much interest a month ago. Sadly with the downing of the Malaysian Airlines over the Ukraine in recent weeks, the question has very much become a topical one.

So, I’m looking at doing a round trip from Berlin to Istanbul later in the year. The cheapest option is to fly via Kiev on Ukraine International Airlines. On one hand, the thought of flying via the Ukraine puts me off, but another part of me tells me that any concerns about that are irrational. Would you do it, or would you pay a bit more to fly with someone else?

Is it irrational to have concerns about passage over a war zone? A war zone is something that is easily defined. On the other hand, the risk any war zone presents to commercial traffic can vary greatly.

It might come as a surprise to many to hear that Australia has its own war zones to contend with. Often known as restricted areas, they are areas where military activity is high and combatants fight each other, often with live weapons, in the form of war games. One of the biggest war games, exercise Pitch Black, kicked off last week in the top end. Unlike real wars, these games are highly orchestrated and activity is scheduled for set times and defined areas. Keeping commercial traffic out of harms way is simply a case of banning over flights when the areas are scheduled to be active.

In a real war zone things are often not so simple. The easy answer is a total ban on commercial over flights at all times. However commercial pressures and geography often work together to make such rules hard, if not impossible to enforce. Afghanistan is a prime example where this is the case. Despite it being a country in turmoil, commercial over flights has been ongoing since the outbreak of violence. The risk has been judged to be small enough to not outweigh the benefits on offer.

When it comes to the Ukraine, as recent events have shown, it’s a different story. Thanks to the general chaotic nature of the conflict, which identities are in control of a region and what weapons they have at their disposal is not always apparent. For that reason alone, many of our members have a firm view on the subject

Whilst I am generally happy to try something different, I wouldn’t be choosing that part of the world at the moment.

Do you share those views? What risks would you think are okay in the quest to save money? Perhaps Kiev is a destination on your list for travel in the near future, join the conversation HERE.


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