Airlines reroute flights over Gulf following missile attack
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.