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Why the world's flight paths are such a mess

Travelers who have been baffled by seemingly illogical flight paths may especially appreciate this highly visual explanation published by the South China Morning Post in October 2018. With the help of illustrative maps, graphics, and an animated interactive globe, "Why the world's flight paths are such a mess" gives readers a concise introduction to the political, legal, and economic structures that help explain the geography of transcontinental flight routes. The article begins with a brief historical background, showing comparisons of flight paths before and after Russia and China relaxed their restrictions in the 1990s, noting that "airspace restrictions have become a political tool used as a bargaining chip to negotiate diplomatic issues." Airspace fees are another factor, and here a flight path from Barcelona to Copenhagen illustrates how European airspace charges "are set according to a combination of distance, a plane's weight, and airspace fees." The article also dives into the complexities that arise when countries or airlines are restricted from or charged for passing through the legal airspace of another country, even if that airspace isn't located near the country controlling it. This fascinating piece was created by Marco Hernandez in collaboration with Darren Long and Danny Lee.
Archived Scout Publication URL
Scout Publication
Date of Scout Publication
December 14th, 2018
Date Of Record Creation
December 12th, 2018 at 6:14pm
Date Of Record Release
December 13th, 2018 at 4:07pm
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