Airlines operating between Asia and Europe are rapidly adjusting their flightpaths to avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace, following military conflict between Iranian and US forces in Iraq and the crash of a Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737 after take-off from Tehran.
KLM, Lufthansa and Air France have all said they are avoiding the two countries’ airspace until further notice, and their flights to several Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern destinations will adhere to alternative routings.
Lufthansa has cancelled its flights to Iranian capital Tehran and Erbil in northern Iraq. “As soon as we have detailed information, we will decide if and when flight operations to/from Tehran and Erbil can be resumed,” says the German airline.
Qantas’s flights between Australia and Europe are being rerouted, adding 40-50min to the flight time of its direct service between London and Perth. “As a result, we will need to reduce the number of passengers on board in order to carry more fuel,” notes the Australian carrier.
Due to prevailing winds, however, its London-Perth flights have so far been unaffected and are carrying a full passenger load with a normal flight duration.
Singapore Airlines says its flights have been avoiding Iranian airspace since 6 January, an action that has not significantly extended flight times to Europe. Malaysia Airlines likewise says it is avoiding Iranian airspace.
UAE-based Emirates and Flydubai have cancelled their scheduled services to Baghdad on 8 January.
The US Federal Aviation Administration has banned American carriers and pilots from using Iranian and Iraqi airspace, as well as some parts of the Persian Gulf, citing the “potential for miscalculation or misidentification” for civilian aircraft in the region.