Air­lines reroute flights over Gulf fol­low­ing mis­sile at­tack

Muscat Daily - - NATION -

A large num­ber of air­lines on Wednesday started di­vert­ing their flights from the airspace over Sea of Oman, Iraq, Iran and the wa­ters be­tween Iran and Saudi Ara­bia, af­ter Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile at­tack against bases housing US troops in Iraq.

The US Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FAA) said it would ban US car­ri­ers from op­er­at­ing in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, the Sea of Oman and the wa­ters be­tween Iran and Saudi Ara­bia. FAA said it is­sued the airspace ban ‘due to height­ened mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties and in­creased po­lit­i­cal ten­sions in the Mid­dle East, which present an in­ad­ver­tent risk to US civil avi­a­tion oper­a­tions’.

Sin­ga­pore Air­lines said all of its flights would be di­verted from Ira­nian airspace. In­dia has ad­vised its air­lines to re­main vig­i­lant and take all pre­cau­tions, in­clud­ing avoid­ing the airspace of Iran, Iraq and the wa­ters of the Per­sian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.

“The safety of our pas­sen­gers and crew mem­bers comes first. In light of the ten­sions within the Ira­nian airspace a de­ci­sion to tem­po­rar­ily reroute flights of Air In­dia and Air In­dia Ex­press over­fly­ing Iran has been taken. This may lead to in­crease in fly­ing time by ap­prox­i­mately 20 min­utes for flights from Delhi and 30 to 40 min­utes for flights from Mum­bai. The sit­u­a­tion is be­ing closely mon­i­tored,” said Dhanan­jay Kumar, spokesper­son, Air In­dia.

China Air­lines, Tai­wan Air­lines and Malaysia Air­lines were among those which said they’re avoid­ing the Ira­nian airspace. Mean­while, Dubai-based Emi­rates and its sis­ter air­line flydubai can­celled Wednesday’s flights to Baghdad.

An in­ter­na­tional avi­a­tion team has been ac­ti­vated to sup­port ef­fec­tive co­or­di­na­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween air­lines and coun­tries as ten­sions mount in the Mid­dle East af­ter the US drone strike killed an Ira­nian mil­i­tary com­man­der on Jan­uary 3.

Ac­cord­ing to the in­dus­try ex­perts, airspace con­trolled by Iran and Iraq are seen as strate­gic for com­mer­cial avi­a­tion in the Mid­dle East. If there were the need to shut down the airspace, car­ri­ers would have to be rerouted which would lead to greater con­ges­tion and fuel costs.

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