Threats against civilian aircraft?
After the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft we know how defenceless are most civilian flights. What next?
Airlines the world over have to take into account conflict zones, in particular the Middle East, in planning routes. The detours sometimes required cost money, so there is a trade-off between a shorter route near such a zone and a longer route further away.
It was reported some days ago that although most scheduled airlines are avoiding flying over Iraq, Turkish airlines continue to overfly that country. As I write this, I have checked with flightradar24, one of several Web sites offering real-time checking, and seen that their flight THY766, from Istanbul to Kuwait, has just overflown the Iraqi towns of Arbil and Kirkuk! It is there that we get reports of ISIS and Kurdish forces fighting.
According to all reports, ISIS is immensely well funded and that whole region is awash with arms, very likely including precisely the missiles which downed the Malaysian aircraft. After recent air attacks on them, ISIS could well think about downing a civilian airliner as a protest.
Does ISIS have any sort of agreement with Turkish Airlines, or indeed with other countries of that region which may possibly be providing them with money and equipment? Qatar and Saudi Arabia are amongst the countries suspected of aiding them, and so might expect not to have their own aircraft threatened.
ISIS gets some large amount of money from ransoms paid for the release of hostages. We know that the USA is against any payment of ransoms: such payments are against their laws. However, it is widely accepted that many European countries, whilst claiming not to do so, do actually pay them. Switzerland has been reported to be in this category, via disguised payments to a third party (who we could expect to pass most of the money on).
There is, however, another classic way of making money by criminal means: the protection racket! Is it beyond the bounds of possibility that an airline could receive payment demands based upon threats against their aircraft? If that happened, and knowing the likely financial consequences if such a threat were to be carried out successfully, how would the airline react?
Sadly, this world is getting more and more dangerous.