Those who were not familiar with the national airlines carrier of Malaysia certainly know it now. Last March MH370 is believed to have disappeared mysteriously in the Southern Ocean off the coast of Australia, and last week MH17, flying from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, was allegedly shot down by pro-Russian rebels over Ukraine and is now scattered over bloodied sunflower fields.
These tragedies are inexplicable in so many ways that one’s mind can hardly grasp the realities. Yet, Asia’s best airline for 2013, Malaysia Airlines, should not be tarnished by these conspicuous and media-rich occurrences. Many will reassess their travel plans if they include Malaysia Airlines, but I will not. No one should take travel in today’s world lightly. Travel has always been a risky business. From time immemorial travel routes were dangerous because of weather and bandits, ships sunk in wild seas, trains flew off their tracks or became trapped in snow or floods, airplanes were unreliable and crashed, and now we have rebels shooting airplanes 11,000 meters in the heavens. We must take calculated risks.
That section of Ukrainian airspace where MH17 was shot from the sky has been traversed by hundreds of flights weekly. An online flight tracking service, Flightradar24, confirms that Singapore Airlines travelled in that airspace 75-times in the same period of time that Malaysian Airlines flew 48-times. The catastrophic attack on MH17 could have happened to any airline travelling over Ukraine to Asia. None were or exempt from such a cruel and illegal act of terror. It could have been American, German, Dutch or French. As the old saying goes, “there but for the sake of destiny go I too.” Yet, it was MH17.
No doubt some executives form Malaysian Airlines now question whether they should have followed Australia’s Qantas, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific and the UK’s British Airways and avoided war-infested Ukrainian airspace. It is too late now. Bodies are strewn over fields once filled with hundreds of thousands of dead Russian and German soldiers. Unforgiving. One is forced to ask the question, what is with Malaysian Airlines? First the plane that disappeared and left no trace of its prior existence, and now a plane shot from the sky and evidence of its existence and the life within it is exposed in horror for the entire world to see. In the first case, the world hasn’t a clue of what happened. In the second case, the evidence is so overwhelming that it could bring about a war between great powers if not handled correctly.
What we know is the 537 people who boarded two separate modern airplanes operated by Malaysian Airlines are no longer alive. In one case human technology and information provides no clues as to what happened; in the second case we have an overload of information proving the cause. Both instances demonstrate a new understanding for airline travel and agreements between nations to solve problems rather than to create problems.
To the naysayers Malaysian Airlines may suffer financially and collapse. However, for those who know, it is obvious that Asia’s premier airline will survive these coincidental twin disasters. Why? This is because MAS is an airline that represents the world in positive ways. One checks in with an Indian, is welcomed to a seat by a Malaysian, observes a Chinese captain in the pilot’s seat, and enjoys a flight with people from every nationality represented in the world. Although the latter is true for any major airliner’s international flight, there is an aura of warm Asian hospitality, and a unique experience full of excitement. I believe MAS will survive as the promise of a world blessed in harmony.