Airlines Begin Avoiding Iranian and Iraqi Airspace

Photo by Matt Lino | AeroNewsX.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is restricting flights over Iraq, Iran and Persian Gulf airspace in response to Iranian missile attacks on Wednesday. The FAA cited a potential for miscalculation or misidentification for the restrictions on U.S. civil aviation operators. Several other international airlines said Wednesday they would avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace after Tehran fired ballistic missiles at bases housing US troops in Iraq.

Iran launched more than 20 missiles at bases housing US troops in the early hours, officials in Washington and Tehran said.

Iran's supreme leader called the attacks a "slap in the face" after a US drone strike killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani near Baghdad international airport last week.

In Germany, Lufthansa said it had halted overflights of Iran and Iraq until further notice.

But it added that "since Tehran Airport is open and there are no security restrictions for the approach route or the area around the airport, Austrian Airlines will operate today's flight OS 871 to Tehran with a delay of around six hours.

Photo by Matt Lino | AeroNewsX.

"Lufthansa also plans to resume the route tomorrow," the airline said.

Lufthansa said it had cancelled a flight scheduled Saturday to the northern Iraqi city of Erbil.

The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, said it was recommending that airlines avoid the air space over Iran, Iraq and the Persian and Oman Gulfs "due to information about current risks for safety of international passenger flights". The region is a central corridor for flights between Europe and Asia, but aircraft can be rerouted fairly easily. An Air France spokesman told reporters that "Air France has decided to suspend until further notice all flights through Iranian and Iraqi airspace." Partner airline KLM was doing likewise, a spokesman said.

A British Airways flight from Mumbai to London Heathrow flew in a circle midway through its flight to avoid the airspace and then landed in Athens to refuel. Carriers that took similar decisions included Air Canada, Air India, Malaysia Airlines, LOT Polish, Singapore Airlines, Swiss and Qantas. Vietnam Airlines said it would make "appropriate adjustments" to routes to avoid areas of potential instability although its regular flight paths to Europe do not pass over Iran and Iraq.

Japanese airlines ANA and JAL, and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific said their planes do not fly through airspace affected by latest flare-up.

Photo by Anselm Ranta | AeroNewsX.

UAE carriers Emirates Airline and low-cost FlyDubai scrubbed flights to Baghdad for "operational reasons". Kuwait Airways had already suspended flights to Iraq shortly after Soleimani's assassination, and on Tuesday, EgyptAir said it would as well, for three days.

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