Panic and uncertainty continue as Flight 370’s whereabouts remain unknown.
Several weeks ago, Malaysian Airlines flight number 370 disappeared without a trace. Since then, conflicting data has been pouring in from across the globe, sparking a frenetic search by the Malaysian, Chinese, Australian, New Zealand, U.S. and other government agencies. So far, the efforts have proved fruitless, but the search continues. Full-blown media coverage of the missing flight has captivated and puzzled experts and casual observers alike. The ramifications of the missing flight have already sparked debate in the airline industry regarding precisely what steps need to be taken to ensure that such an occurrence does not repeat itself.
While the specifics of precisely what the pilot and co-pilot radioed in to the air traffic control tower just before the plane went missing are not entirely known, nothing seems to be out of the ordinary yet. Whether it was an intentional act of sabotage, terrorism, mechanical failure or something else remains to be seen. To date, no wreckage has been found and no trace of the aircraft has been picked up by satellite images, sonar or other military technologies. This begs the question: Where is flight 370 and what steps can be carried out to ensure the safety of passengers around the world?
The Impact of Flight 370 on Travel to Malaysia
Conflicting data suggests that travel to Malaysia may or may not have been affected by the mystery disappearance of flight 370. Hotel booking websites in Europe have witnessed a dramatic drop in search queries among American users seeking Malaysian hotels and tourist destinations. However, Malaysian officials are of the opinion that there has been no marked impact on tourism to their country since flight 370 all but vanished into thin air. The doomed airliner was carrying 239 people and went missing on March 8, 2014. Malaysia derives much of its revenues from tourism, with an estimated 25 million travellers visiting the country during 2013. The revenues generated through tourism during 2013 amounted to $20 billion.
Already various hotel booking sites, Trivago among them, have witnessed big drops in the number of search queries for hotels in Malaysia. For example, Trivago reported that U.S. searches and Australian searches were down with figures of 22% and 18%, respectively. For their part, Malaysian government officials and those in the tourism sector continue to downplay the reports. What seems to be happening is that overall tourism to Malaysia remains steady, while travellers are opting to use other international airline carriers instead of Malaysian Airlines.
The vast majority of tourists to Malaysia come from India. Presently, the Malaysian government is on an all-out effort to increase travel and tourism from India to Malaysia. Regardless of the initiatives currently underway, the disappearance of flight 370 has had a dramatic impact on the desire of Indian travellers to visit Malaysia. Another country that has been particularly devastated by news of the missing flight is China. Overall, the full impact of that this tragic event will not be felt for a while, as data is continually being collected from travel and booking agencies around the world. Leading industry experts are at odds regarding precisely how this event is being perceived and reacted to by travellers. While some vacationers view the missing flight as a singular event, others are more cautious and are putting their travel plans on hold. The realization has long since grown on people that air travel is still the safest way to go, regardless of the isolated instances that occur.
Effect of Flight 370 on Air Travel in General
Calls for safety changes have been made across the board since the doomed Malaysian Airlines flight 370 crisis. Some in the industry are calling for cameras to be installed in the cockpits of planes, while others are pushing for the implementation of real-time streaming/communications from the black box and transponders to satellites and other uplink stations. Airline industry officials have been quick to point out that the industry operates on slim profits and that the widespread implementation of overall safety measures is simply untenable at this point in time. The exorbitant costs of overhauling the way the airline functions – in respect of the black box, transponders, pinging and communication with authorities – are simply unaffordable.
For example, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has long been calling for cockpit video recorders to understand precisely what's going on in flights that lose communication with air traffic control. Privacy concerns are among the many issues preventing this type of technology from taking root. Union officials are reluctant to have cameras installed in cockpits, for fear of adverse effects on pilot performance. But there are other measures that can be implemented such as increased in lifespan of batteries that are used to power locator beacons.
Other measures that airline industry aficionados are looking at include uplinks of info from planes to satellite stations prior to crashes. Of course the technology to provide for real-time streaming of all associated flight info is with us, but not on planes yet. One such system known as AFIRS (automated flight information system) provides information on performance, location, altitude and so forth. This technology has been created by a Canadian firm – Flyht Aerospace Solutions.
What About Malaysian Airlines stock?
The stock price of Malaysian Airlines System Bhd (NYSE:MAS) has been on the decline for several years. The most notable decline can be seen from the precipitous drop on Feb. 21, through Feb. 27, 2014. From a high of 0.28, the stock dropped to a low of 0.23 on March 17. It has begun a slow and steady uptrend since the low, but the stock price is presently trading at 0.24. As the investigation continues and more information is made available, the stock price will adjust accordingly.