New Delhi: Amid rising geopolitical tensions between the US and Iran, India’s aviation regulator DGCA Saturday said Indian airlines have decided to avoid the “affected part of the Iranian airspace” and reroute their flight “suitably”. On Friday, the American aviation regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) prohibiting US-registered aircraft from operating “in the overwater area of the Tehran Flight Information Region until further notice, due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions”.
“All Indian operators in consultation with DGCA have decided to avoid the affected part of Iranian Airspace to ensure safe travel for the passengers. They will re-route flights suitably,” the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) tweeted on Saturday. After the DGCA’s decision, Air India’s Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani said,”No substantial effect on Air India flights. Details being worked out for rerouting on incoming flights.” As the majority of Pakistani airspace has remained closed for Indian airlines since the Balakot strike on February 26, the decision to avoid affected Iranian airspace on Saturday is going to further disturb the routes of their international flights towards middle-eastern and European countries, and the US.
Post Balakot strike, Air India had to re-route, merge or suspend many of its international flights that connect India with European and American cities. On Thursday, Iran shot down a US military drone in its airspace, following which the FAA had warned that there is a possibility that commercial aircraft can be mistakenly targeted in Iranian airspace. Consequently, major airlines around the world have already rerouted their aircraft. For example, Etihad Airways said Saturday that it has “suspended operations through Iranian airspace over the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, and will use alternative flight paths on a number of routes to and from Abu Dhabi until further notice”. United Airlines has decided to stop Mumbai-Newark flight till September 1.
In a statement, US-based United Airlines said,”Given current events in the Middle East and the continued closure of Pakistani airspace, we have decided to suspend our service between India (Mumbai and Delhi) and Newark until September 1.” Pakistan closed its airspace after Indian Air Force conducted air strikes on terrorist camps in Balakot in Pakistan on February 26. Since then, it has opened only two air routes that pass over through southern Pakistan and Gujarat.
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