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Malaysian Air MH17

Posted by kdadmin on July 19th, 2014.

When I fly, I use Flightradar24 to route my flights through stable countries and zones because I don’t want to end up in hostile territory in the event of an emergency. For example, when I was thinking about going to Bali, I realized that the only way to get there was to fly through potentially unpleasant countries (places that I wouldn’t visit because of their travel hazards), and on airlines that had been banned from the European Union due to safety concerns.

People often told me I was being paranoid. I figured they may be right; but still thought it was prudent to hedge my bets. Apparently, now, so do all the airlines of the world as they have agreed to no longer fly over the troubled region in the Ukraine where Malaysian Air MH17 was shot down.

Before I go any further, I want to express my deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and loved ones of those who perished in that flight.

I was a little hesitant to write a blog about this event as I didn’t want to be insensitive to the loss of these people. At the same time, I’m the sort of person who runs towards a tragedy, tries to understand the forces at work before they’ve been written over by the media spin doctors, and figures out what strategic points I can take away from the experience. I will certainly make time to grieve, to figure out what blood I may have on my own hands, vis-a-vis my nation’s activities in the region, and decide what to do to help those in need.

In this case, the lesson is an underscoring of the fundamental law of risk management: bear only the risks you are willing to endure. For example, could you make more money betting on the commodities market during a period of upward momentum than in a balanced investment portfolio? Probably yes. But if a sudden market movement turned against you, would you be willing to endure the risk of losing everything? Probably no. So, should you bet on the commodities market? No.

Looking at Malaysian Airlines. Is it cheaper, easier, faster, legal, and more profitable to fly over the Ukraine from Europe to Asia? Yes. Are you willing to endure the risk of losing another aircraft this year (think MH370) to warring factions who are not acting in accordance with traditional military law? Probably no. Should you fly over the Ukraine? No.

Now, hindsight is 20/20. I have compassion for the airlines. It is difficult to orchestrate tens of thousands of flights, every day, market to a fickle public, while jockeying for market share with a slew of other airlines, in order to make a very small profit. In comparison, I’m just one guy, planning his few flights through the year.

I mean, how many thousands of flights flew over the Ukraine in the last four months? Many. Did any of them have a problem? No. Am I just being a paranoid. Maybe.

But, maybe not.

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