AIRLINES are being banned from flying over Iranian and Iraqi airspace following last night’s missile attack on US forces in Iraq.
As airlines are forced to divert their planes, this could mean your flights will take even longer.
Here’s what you need to know:
US airlines affected
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) confirmed that “flight restrictions prohibit US civil aviation operators from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman”.
They added that they were “closely monitoring” the situation amid the heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East.
Many US carriers are already banned from flying below 26,000ft over Iraq and Iran after a US drone was shot down in June last year.
American Airlines, Delta and United do not fly over Iran.
Such restrictions are often precautionary in nature to prevent passenger aircraft from being confused for ones engaged in armed conflict.
UK airlines affected
UK carriers are not yet banned from flying over Iraq or Iran as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is yet to update their advice.
However, alternate routes could result in airlines flying through Dubai to avoid the banned airspace.
This could result in longer flights, not just because of the new route but due to the increased number of aircraft also flying through the area.
A British Airways spokesperson told Sun Online Travel: “We are in constant contact with our partners around the world to assess the security of our routes, and will always take action where appropriate.
“We would never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so.”
A BA flight from Mumbai to Heathrow was forced to divert after deciding to avoid flying over Iran.
A TUI flight from London to India was delayed for 36 hours, according to the Independent, after it was forced to change its flight route due to “airspace restrictions”.
Last year, a number of airlines were had to take longer routes after Pakistan airspace was closed following tensions with India.
Other airlines affected
Australian carrier Qantas said it was altering its London to Perth, Australia, 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, while Singapore Airlines also said that its flights to Europe would be re-routed to avoid Iran.
Air France has suspended all flights over Iranian and Iraqi airspace.
A KLM spokesperson told Sun Online Travel: “Until further notice, KLM will not make use of Iranian or Iraqi airspace. Flights to a number of Southeast Asian destinations and destinations in the Middle East will be operated by using alternative routes. KLM will continue to monitor the region, and will stay in contact with authorities.”
Taiwan’s EVA Air said European flights would be avoiding flying over Iran, according to CNN.
Qatar Airways could be hit the worst as they can also not fly over Saudi or UAE airspace, with Iran and Iraq one of the only flight routes to leave the country.
However, a spokesperson told Sun Online Travel: “Qatar Airways’ services to Iraq are currently operating normally. The safety of our passengers and employees is of the highest importance, and we continue to closely monitor developments in Iraq.”
Air Canada confirmed they would be rerouting its five-times weekly flight to Dubai.
A Ukrainian passenger plane has crashed near Iran’s Tehran airport, killing all 178 on board, sparking fears it was shot down.
Threats to commercial aircraft have been heightened since 2014 after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.
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