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Air Service Black Week

A horrible week for the air business is (hopefully) coming to an end. A streak of disasters, mishaps and negative events of several kinds has been hauling on with a curious east-to-west geographic trend in the northern hemisphere, from China's easternmost end to the US's Pacific coast.

It all started last Tuesday with the widely reported plane crash that killed 43 passengers in the north-eastern China province of Heilonjiang. This tragedy, by far the worst among this week's air news, led to suspension of all Henan Airlines' flights originally scheduled for the following Wednesday and Thursday.

South of China's mainland, carrier Mandala Airlines canceled flights between Jakarta and Macau until August 29th with no official statement about the reason. Until September 1st, when the route will be back on the schedule, flights will be redirected to Hong Kong.

Around the same time, Singapore's Tiger Airways canceled at least 10 flights over a few-days period due to pilot shortage.

Moving west, unspecified "operational reasons" caused the temporary suspension of carrier Air India Express's flights between Bahrain and Mumbai. The action began yesterday, and will be implemented until October 30th, with the exception of six selected days in the middle of September.

And again in Mumbai, India, a Jet Airways plane was evacuated today (08/27) before taking off after an engine allegedly caught on fire. While the warning alarm went off, no fire was found, but during the evacuation 30 passengers out of 153 were reportedly injured.

Drifting further west, the air virus landed in the Middle East. Here, a Saudi low-cost private airline named Sama announced it's suspension of services starting last Tuesday, due to financial trouble.

Surprisingly, the unlucky stream of air happenings only grazed Europe, where a 20% reduction of flights entering Greek air-space was the only problem reported during the week. The cause was a switch of guiding systems, and it was planned ahead. Not too bad for a continent that made the headlines over the past year and more with pilot and air-controllers strikes, inclement weather and troubles of any kind that took a huge toll on flight schedules and operations.

Last but not least, the chain of air-related accidents found its next link on the US west coast, where Rochester International Airport (NY) was closed on Thursday after a hydrogen tank explosion occurred around noon at a green alternative fueling station nearby. Fortunately, only one worker was reportedly injured.

Finally, it took the air-service curse very little to travel coast-to-coast. Only a few hours after the incident in Rochester, NY, a hard landing by a JetBlue Airbus left at least 15 people injured at Sacramento International Airport in California on the same Thursday afternoon.

Hoping that such a week won't include the week-end, and that it won't happen again, it is important to remind how many things you can do, if not to prevent, certainly to face the consequences of such setbacks. With the help of a travel counselor, or on your own if you feel comfortable, researching, planning and insuring ahead is always the best way to depart confident and with the highest degree of peace of mind.

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