Air India reroutes flights after Iran’s missile attack, says safety first

The shortage pushed up airfares, allowing Air India to make a windfall. Photo: Nikkei Asian Review. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NEW DELHI, Jan 8, 2020, Hindustan Times. The Air India on Wednesday rerouted its flights overflying Iran to Europe and US in the wake of a missile strike by Tehran on US airbases in Iraq, Hindustan Times reported.

“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 (AI) and Air India Express (AIX) overflying Iran has been taken,” Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar said in a statement.

The statement further said that the rerouting may lead to increase in flying time by approximately 20 minutes for flights from Delhi and 30-40 minutes for flights from Mumbai.

Many other commercial airlines have already rerouted flights crossing the Middle East to avoid possible danger amid escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.

Australian carrier Qantas said it was altering its London to Perth routes to avoid Iran and Iraq airspace until further notice. The longer route meant that Qantas would have to carry fewer passengers and more fuel to remain in the air for an extra 40 to 50 minutes.

Malaysia Airlines said that “due to recent events,” its planes would avoid Iranian airspace.

Singapore Airlines also said that its flights to Europe would be re-routed to avoid Iran.

The flight restrictions reflected fears that the conflict between the longtime foes could ratchet up following Iranian ballistic missile strikes on Tuesday on two Iraqi bases that house US troops. Those strikes were retaliation for the US killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike near Baghdad last week.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said it was barring American pilots and carriers from flying in areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace. The agency warned of the “potential for miscalculation or mis-identification” for civilian aircraft amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran.

The Russian aviation agency, Rosaviatsia, also 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”.

United Arab Emirates-owned budget airline flydubai said it had canceled a scheduled flight Wednesday from Dubai to Baghdad, but was continuing flights to Basra and Najaf.

Emirates airline flights between Dubai and Baghdad were cancelled. Qatar Airways, however, said its flights to Iraq were operating normally.

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