Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Air India, AI Express not to fly in Iran airspace, flight duration to get longer by up to 40 minutes

New Delhi: Air India and AI Express flights will not be routed over Iranian airspace in view of the tensions in the region. The re-routed flights of AI between India and the west will accordingly see their flying times increase by up to 40 minutes.

India had on Wednesday morning “advised” its airlines to avoid overflying the airspace of Iran, Iraq and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) barred its carriers from doing so following Iran’s missile attacks on bases housing American troops in Iraq.

AI spokesman Dhananjay Kumar said: "The safety of our passengers and crew members comes first. In light of the tensions within the Iranian airspace a decision to temporarily reroute flights of Air India (AI) and Air India Express (AIX) overflying Iran has been taken. This may lead to increase in flying time by approximately 20 minutes for flights from Delhi and 30 to 40 minutes for flights from Mumbai. The situation is being closely monitored."

AI has the maximum flights between India and the west -- right up to the US.

An IndiGo spokesperson said: "IndiGo does not operate any flights over Iranian and Iraqi airspace, hence we do not expect our flights to the Middle-East or Turkey to be impacted. The routes to Gulf operate through Oman, Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf, while the routes to Turkey fly over the northern routes over the Caspian sea and head directly from there to Istanbul. Currently, our flights are operating as per normal schedule. We are monitoring the situation closely and in case of a contingency, there might be slight time changes in our operations, which will be proactively communicated to our passengers."

International airlines have also started avoiding Iranian airspace.

A senior official of India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said, “held meetings with concerned airlines to sensitise them for remaining vigilant and taking all precautions, including avoiding” those areas. However, the official added "no formal instruction (have been issued) as yet."
This will mean longer travel time for flights that overly these regions. Some flights were enroute when FAA the notice to airmen (NOTAM) to avoid Iran, Iraq and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman was issued.
08/01/20 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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