Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Govt asks airlines to take precautions as Iran-US tensions flare

India has advised its airlines to remain vigilant and take precautions while flying over Iran, Iraq, Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman amid US-Iran tensions, people aware of the development told CNBC-TV18.

The move comes as Iran launched several missiles at two Iraqi bases that house US troops in retaliation for the US airstrike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last week.

Indian airlines on Wednesday were advised to take alternative routes and avoid the region to the extent possible, the people added.

Air India has started rerouting its flights and those of Air India Express which were flying over Iran.

"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," the national carrier's spokesperson said in a statement.

This will mean longer travel time for passengers and more fuel for airlines. Carriers may have to look for alternative routes or exercise caution while flying over the regions with heightened tension, which is expected to put financial strain on their operations.

A similar advisory last year had affected 20 flights of Indian carriers, including two of IndiGo and nine each of Air India Express and Air India.

The rerouting had resulted in an increase in the operating cost of Air India Express by approximately Rs 22 lakh per day, of Air India flights by Rs 13 lakh per day and that of IndiGo by nearly Rs 2 lakh per day as the flying time increased by approximately 15 minutes.

The latest advisory from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) comes after the US regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday issued an emergency directive prohibiting all its carriers from operating in Baghdad flight information region, Tehran flight information region and in the overwater airspace over Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. The ban has been ordered on account of heightened military activities and increased political tension in the Middle East.

Following this, several global carriers have also decided to avoid the Iranian air space.
08/01/20 Anu Sharma/CNBC TV18

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