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Airlines reroute flights near Iranian strait but Dublin-Gulf flights remain unaffected

The changes come amid heightened tensions in the region.

Iran Iran displays pieces of the drone shot down over the Strait of Hormuz. Source: Meghdad Madadi/PA Images

SOME OF THE world’s leading carriers including British Airways, Qantas and Singapore Airlines have suspended flights over the Strait of Hormuz, as Iran-US tensions flare over the downing of a drone.

The suspensions came after the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States issued a Notice to Airmen “prohibiting US-registered aircraft from operating over the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman”.

The notice was in response to “heightened military activities and increased political tensions that might place commercial flights at risk”, an FAA statement said.

The FAA’s notice applies only to US-registered airlines, and United Airlines said it was suspending its Newark-Mumbai service in response. But European and Asian operators were taking no chances.

“Our safety and security team are constantly liaising with authorities — including the likes of the FAA — around the world as part of their comprehensive risk assessment into every route we operate,” a BA spokeswoman said.

Germany’s Lufthansa followed suit in bypassing the Hormuz area.

Dutch carrier KLM said: “Safety is the top priority for KLM.

The incident with the drone is reason not to fly over the Strait of Hormuz for the time being. This is a precautionary measure.

Australia’s flag carrier Qantas said: “We’re adjusting our flight paths over the Middle East to avoid the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman until further notice.”

Iran’s downing of the drone — which Washington insists was above international waters but Iran says was within its airspace — has seen tensions between the two countries spike further after a series of attacks on tanker ships blamed by the US on Tehran.

Singapore Airlines echoed Qantas and the other long-haul operators transiting over Iran, saying that some of its “flights may be taking slightly longer routings to avoid the affected Strait of Hormuz area”.

“Singapore Airlines only chooses routes that are safe and have been cleared for use by the authorities. We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” it said.

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow strait between Iran and Oman that is 65 km at its narrowest point. As well as those two nations, the only other country in its immediate vicinity is the United Arab Emirates. 

Emirates Airline operates flights between Dublin and the UAE but the airline has said that none of its flights are yet being affected by the tensions in the region. 

“We are carefully monitoring the situation and will make further operational changes if the need arises,” Emirates has said.

Etihad Airways, which also flies between Dublin and the Gulf region, has said that it “is carefully monitoring the current situation”.

“Contingency plans are in place, and we will decide what further action is required after carefully evaluating the FAA directive to US carriers. We are working closely with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority,” the carrier said. 

© – AFP 2019 with reporting by Rónán Duffy

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Rónán Duffy

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