US-Iran tensions: International flights cancelled and rerouted to avoid Iraq

It follows Iranian missile attacks at Iraqi military bases housing US troops

Emirates and flydubai cancelled flights in and out of Iraq. Courtesy flydubai
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International airlines are rerouting their flights to avoid airspace over Iraq and Iran on Wednesday following Tehran’s missile attack on US troops stationed in Iraq.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired 22 missiles at Iraqi military bases housing US forces on Tuesday night, in response to the killing of General Qassem Suleimani in a US drone strike last week.

The US Federal Aviation Authority immediately announced a ban on all American carriers flying over Iraq or Iran.

The agency warned of the “potential for miscalculation or misidentification" for civilian aircraft amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

"The FAA said the restrictions were being issued due to “heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations.”

Airlines such as Emirates, EgyptAir, Qantas and Air France, have cancelled some of all of their flights to Iraq.

EgyptAir announced on Tuesday that it will suspend its flights to Baghdad for three days starting from Wednesday due to security reasons.

The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsia, instructed its Russian carriers including transit flights to avoid flights in the airspace of Iraq, Iran and the Gulf.

Germany’s flagship carrier Lufthansa cancelled its daily flight between Frankfurt and Tehran, a representative said.

The airlines is also cancelling its next planned flight to Erbil on Saturday.

Australian carrier Qantas said it was altering its London to Perth, Australia, routes to avoid Iran and Iraq airspace until further notice.

Singapore Airlines said that its flights to Europe would be rerouted to avoid Iran.

Several airlines in the UAE also cancelled their flights to Baghdad on Wednesday. Dubai's budget carrier flydubai said it is in contact with passengers who have been affected by the decision.

Their flights to Basra and Najaf will operate as normal.

"We are liaising with the relevant authorities and continue to monitor the situation closely," a flydubai spokesperson told The National.

Emirates cited “operational reasons” for cancelling two flights between Dubai and Baghdad on Wednesday morning.

"We are carefully monitoring the developments and are in close contact with the relevant government authorities with regards to our flight operations, and will make further operational changes if required," an the airlines spokesperson told The National.

Bahrain's Gulf Air on Friday suspended flights to and from Baghdad and Shiite holy city of Najaf until further notice.

Kuwait Airways said on Twitter on Monday that its flights to Najaf, the only route it operates to Iraq, had been suspended for four weeks following the outbreak of violent protests for "safety" reasons.