Tensions in Middle East affecting airlines
NEW DELHI — Commercial airlines are rerouting flights throughout the Middle East to avoid potential danger during heightened tensions between the United States and Iran.
Jumbled schedules could affect as many as 15,000 passengers per day, lengthen flight times by an average of 30 to 90 minutes, and severely bruise the bottom line for airlines, industry analysts said.
There is anxiety that the conflict between the longtime foes could intensify following Iranian ballistic missile strikes Wednesday on two Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops.
At least 500 commercial flights travel through Iranian and Iraqi airspace daily, Dubai-based aviation consultant Mark Martin said.
Poland’s national carrier, PLL LOT, said Saturday that it was changing routes to bypass Iran’s airspace.
Other European carriers followed Wednesday, and the restrictions were expected to “further depress” air travel between Iran and Western Europe, which saw strong growth after the Iran nuclear deal but a sharp dive when President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement and reimposed sanctions, according to the Sydney-based Center for Aviation consultancy.
Air France and Dutch carrier KLM both said Wednesday that they had suspended all flights over Iranian and Iraqi airspace indefinitely. German airline Lufthansa and two of its subsidiaries also canceled flights to Iraq.
The Russian aviation agency, Rosaviatsia, issued an official recommendation for all Russian airlines to avoid flying over Iran, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman “due to existing risks for the safety of international civil flights.”
Asia-Pacific carriers were also expected to be hit hard, Martin said.