With armed conflict looming over Iraq, all parties involved in air transport have now put into place planned additional safety and security procedures to keep our passengers flying safely, with as little inconvenience as possible.

"Aircraft are being re-routed around the conflict zone in accordance with air route contingency plans that were developed and agreed by IATA, ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) and national governments in advance. These plans have been coordinated with the national authorities concerned. For flights to and from Persian Gulf destinations, pre-determined temporary routes will divert flights well away from any military activity," said IATA Director General and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani.

The approximately 150 flights between Europe and Southeast Asia will most likely not experience any noticeable change as they are normally routed well north of the conflict zone. Travellers in the Persian Gulf area, however, could experience up to one hour or more added flight time when re-routed.

Air transport is well prepared as an industry to cope with this type of situation as was witnessed, for example, during the military events in Bosnia, Kosovo and last year in Afghanistan. Bisignani added: "IATA is cooperating with governments, to put into place any additional operational measures that could be needed."

An IATA Task Force is in place and active 24 hours a day in updating contingency plans. Its activities are fully coordinated with ICAO and the different national governments involved.

Air transport has been going through its worst crisis in its hundred-year history accumulating over 30 billion dollars of losses since the tragic events of 11 September 2001. "The present armed conflict will only worsen these losses. In such difficult circumstances, we call on governments and industry partners, in particular infrastructure service providers, to share with the airlines the burden of this new crisis and to endeavour to reduce their charges," Bisignani concluded.

The airlines are continuing to do business as usual and encourage their customers to do likewise. Civil aviation is a fundamental element of modern life and contributes not only to the economy of the world, but also to social and political welfare.

We will keep flying and look forward to seeing you on board.