Major int'l carriers divert flights from Iranian–Iraqi airspace

- A Monitor Desk Report 12 Jan, 2020 | 1849 Views|-+
Dhaka: Major international airlines are canceling and re-routing flights in the Middle East after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi military bases that house US forces.

Air France, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines and Taiwan's EVA Air said they were avoiding the airspace above Iran and Iraq. Singapore Airlines also said it would not fly over Iran.

The Federal Aviation Agency meanwhile restricted commercial US flights "from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman." Authorities in Russia recommended the country's airlines avoid the same areas.

Meanwhile, a Boeing 737 flown by Ukraine International Airlines crashed near Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran early on January 8. The jet had 176 passengers and crew aboard, all dead.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk said that it was "too early" to establish the cause of the crash. Ukraine's embassy in Iran removed from its website a statement which said that terror or rocket attacks had been ruled out as causes of the plane crash.

Escalating tensions between the United States and Iran are making it tougher for airlines to fly over the Middle East, where huge chunks of airspace are already off limits because of political rivalries or war.

The attacks by Tehran were retaliation for a US airstrike last week that killed a top Iranian general. A US official said that there were no initial reports of any US casualties from the attack.

Some airlines reacted by canceling flights. Lufthansa said it would not fly to Tehran or Erbil, a city in northern Iraq that is home to one of the bases hit in the Iranian missile strike. Emirates canceled flights between Dubai and Baghdad, where the Iranian general was killed.

The additional miles flown to avoid trouble spots mean higher costs for airlines, which together spend USD 180 billion a year on jet fuel.

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