Airlines reroute flights to avoid Iranian airspace in the Gulf

War fears as US 'receives message' over Drone action

The FAA prohibited flights in the Tehran Flight Information Region in a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) warning of "heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region which present an inadvertent risk to USA civil aviation operations and potential for miscalculation or misidentification". Gulf long-haul carriers could suffer financially, and they have already faced challenges under the Trump administration.

An IndiGo spokesperson had on Friday said: "Gulf of Oman/ Strait of Hormuz: A few Routes are affected by the FAA advisory".

American major United has indefinitely cancelled its daily Mumbai-Newark nonstop after the US Federal Aviation barred its airlines from overflying Iranian airspace as Iran shot down a US drone. "We do not seek war, but will zealously defend our skies, land and waters", Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.

Australia's flag carrier, Qantas, said on Friday that its flights over the Middle East will avoid the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman following the downing of a USA surveillance drone in the region.

Immediately after the attack President Trump said the Iranian military "made a very big mistake" when it shot down the American spy drone.

"The NOTAM [notice to airmen] warns pilots that flights are not permitted in the overwater area of the Tehran Flight Information Region until further notice, due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions that might place commercial flights at risk", it said in a statement. The US ban does not apply to airlines from other countries, but OPSGROUP, which provides guidance to operators, said carriers globally would take it into consideration.

The overall impact of the directive is rather minimal, said Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for the flight-tracking website Flightradar24, because avoiding that small portion of Iranian airspace is fairly simple from a technical perspective.

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"The risk to U.S. civil aviation is demonstrated by the Iranian surface-to-air missile shoot-down of a United States unmanned aircraft system on 19 June 2019 while it was operating in the vicinity of civil air routes above the Gulf of Oman". The official said the doubt was one of the reasons Trump called off the strike, according to the Times, which said that it could under global norms be viewed as an act of war.

British Airways, however, stuck to the letter of the FAA prohibition, confirming to the Telegraph that it would avoid Iranian airspace in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman only. Qantas said it was adjusting flight paths to avoid the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman until further notice.

Emirates, the long-haul carrier in Dubai near the Strait of Hormuz, told AP it was "rerouting all flights away from areas of possible conflict".

Etihad announced that it had activated "contingency plans", however, and said it was "carefully monitoring the current situation". Tehran maintained that the drone was shot down over its territory, whereas Washington claimed that it happened in worldwide airspace.

The President pulled back from attacking Iran on Thursday evening, according to The New York Times.

He said U.S. sanctions are crippling the Iranian economy and that more are being added. "The NOTAM applies to all U.S. air carriers and commercial operators". "This is a precautionary measure", said the Dutch airline.

All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the US and Iran into an open conflict, some 40 years after Tehran's Islamic Revolution.

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