11 08 2022, Thursday 02:47
: 05-08-22 09:25

Vietnam Airlines Flights Are Now Avoiding Airspace Near Taiwan

Vietnam has instructed carriers to avoid the airspace over Taiwan Strait as China conducts military drills.

 

Vietnam Airlines has opted to avoid the airspace near the Taiwan Strait following China's decision to conduct live-fire near the territory. Vietnamese authorities ordered all carriers to avoid the area following an advisory by China to all airlines in Asia on Wednesday. Political tensions in the region have been high since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan this week.

In response to government orders, Vietnam Airlines is temporarily rerouting flights bound from or through northeast Asia, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, as well as US traffic that might usually overfly the region. The new routes have come into effect from August 4th and will presumably remain in effect as long as China continues military operations, according to The Times of India.

Read more: New communications solutions for Vietnamese regional airports

Notably, today's service from Taipei Airport to Hanoi took the usual route through the Taiwan Strait, meaning changes could come into effect later in the evening. Flights from the West Coast due to land later tonight may also slightly deviate as drills begin the last few hours. In total, up to 36 routes will be affected by the changes, with varying time added.

More Asian carriers are likely to follow guidance and avoid the Taiwan strait in the coming days as military tensions run high and rare live-fire missions take place. According to Aerotime Hub, authorities in China, such as Fujian near Taiwain, already started cutting flights in recent days ahead of upcoming operations.

China's warning to countries comes as it responds to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island on Tuesday night. The trip came after days of doubt over whether it woud occur and amid Chinese threats of military escalation in response to the US' decision. While Speaker Pelosi arrived safely and left the next day, China has planned a series of military drills in Taiwanese airspace and water, including with live missiles and ammunition according to some reports.

Given the rising threat, airlines have opted to move flights away from Taiwan for safety reasons until the situation returns to a relative calm. The Taiwan Strait is 180kms wide and is unlikely to cause too much time added for most flights, barring some operating directly from or Taipei, but further escalation could see parts of the South China Sea affected as well.

It's unclear how long current military drills with last in Taiwan and what impact they may have in the long-term. China has called the latest mission as rehersal of "reunification" of the island with mainland China and include some operations squarely in territorial waters of the self-ruling island.

EVA Airways and China Airlines, the two biggest in Taiwan, will likely be drawing up new flight plans for routes to Asia and Europe in response to the current threat facing the island. For now, restrictions will remain, but the question is of how long and how far they will go.


: Simple Flying




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