Airlines Avoid Iraqi & Iranian Airspace As Tensions Ramp Up

Airlines are beginning to avoid flying in Iraqi and Iranian airspace. The move comes as tensions in the Middle East rise following a US airstrike earlier this month. Earlier, we reported that the Federal Aviation Administration had banned US carriers from operating in the region.

Virgin Atlantic, On Time Performance, British Airways, Ryanair, easyJet, Aer Lingus
Airlines are avoiding the airspace over Iraq and Iran. Photo: Getty Images

Today has been a major day for developments in the aviation industry. Earlier today we, unfortunately, witnessed the tragic loss of a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737. This was accompanied by a warning from the Federal Aviation Administration, banning US aircraft and crew from flying in the Iran and Iraq areas, with a few exceptions.

Airlines avoiding the area

While not all airlines haven’t yet been banned from the area, many are choosing to avoid it. This includes major European carriers such as Air France and British Airways. Aircraft have been opting to fly around the affected area, however, in some instances flights have diverted as fuel for such a detour has not been sufficient. Qantas will need to add a stop to the world’s third-longest flight due to the necessary detour.

Two flights we’ve so far seen diverted were British Airways’ Boeing 777 and Boeing 747 services to Dubai, BA105 and BA109. These flights made a U-turn to divert to Istanbul just prior to entering Iraqi airspace.

Meanwhile, British Airways flight 157 to Kuwait took a major detour around the affected airspace. Additionally, BA134 from Mumbai to London made a dramatic U-turn, just skimming Iraqi airspace. It then diverted around the area, landing in Athens for additional fuel.

Iran, Iraq, Airspace Ban
A British Airways flight to Kuwait took a huge detour. Image:

Operations halted

As is the case with these types of flight restrictions, certain flight operations in the area have been suspended. One such carrier suspending services is German flag carrier Lufthansa. The airline had suspended its daily service to Tehran until further notice. However, it will now resume tomorrow, according to Reuters. Additionally, the airline’s flight to Erbil in Iraq will not go ahead on Saturday.

The OPS Group, who focuses on flight safety, has warned of increased risk in the area. The group warned that until the cause of this morning’s aircraft crash has been established, it should be treated as though it was a shoot down event. The group likens the circumstances to MH17 which was shot down above Ukraine a few years ago.

Ukraine 737 crash
Earlier today a Ukrainian Boeing 737 came down shortly after departing Tehran. Photo: Getty Images

What are airlines saying

Simple Flying approached British Airways regarding its stance on flying through the area. The airline told us:

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.

What do you make of the airlines avoiding the area? Is it a good idea, or needn’t they worry? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.