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Airlines Amend Schedules to Avoid Iranian Airspace

Some major airlines are adjusting their operations due to the ongoing situation in the Middle East.

Air India narrowbody aircraft (Photo: Kambui [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)])

Several airlines, including Air India, Qantas, and Lufthansa, are amending flight schedules and routes due to escalating tensions in the Middle East. The changes to flight schedules are to avoid overflight of the airspace of countries where conflict has the potential to escalate.

The Guardian reports that Qantas will reroute its Perth to London non-stop service to include a stop in Singapore as the 17-and-a-half-hour flight overflew Iranian airspace. The return Boeing 787-9 service will continue to fly non-stop between Heathrow and Perth due to favorable westerly winds that do not require overflight of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Australian carrier’s response coincides with an advisory from the country’s government warning citizens of potential travel disruptions due to the escalation of events in the region. “The security situation could deteriorate quickly, with little or no notice,” the warning advisory said. “This may also result in airspace closures, flight cancellations and flight diversions, and other travel disruptions. Airports may pause operations due to heightened security concerns.”

Air India has also amended flight routes to avoid Iranian airspace though unlike European carriers the airline continues to operate through Russian airspace. The Times of India reports that the carrier is undertaking a more northerly flight path for its Delhi-London service. This route replaces the usual India-Pakistan-Iran-Turkey-Black Sea path to Europe. The carrier’s service from Delhi to Tel Aviv operated on Saturday though a spokesperson stated: “We are closely monitoring the developing situation in the Middle East.”

Indian carrier Vistara is also taking steps to protect operational integrity for flights to European destinations. “Contingency routes, which are kept available to ensure operational continuity during such eventualities, are being used instead,” said a spokesperson. “This may result in longer flight times on certain routes and associated delays.”

Earlier in the week, Lufthansa announced the temporary suspension of flights from Frankfurt to Tehran. In a statement, the German carrier said, “Due to the current situation in the Middle East, Lufthansa has decided to suspend flights to and from Tehran until Thursday, April 11, 2024. We are constantly monitoring the situation in the Middle East and are in close contact with the authorities. The security and safety of our guests and crew members have top priority for Lufthansa.”

On Thursday, Reuters reported that Lufthansa had extended the suspension of the service by two days through April 13. It was also noted that fellow Lufthansa Group carrier Austrian Airlines was revising the flight schedules of its six-times-per-week Vienna to Tehran service to avoid an overnight layover. Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines are the only European carriers that offer non-stop services to the Iranian capital.

John Flett

Author

  • John Flett

    John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John is currently the course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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