Dhaka: Leading carriers of the world diverted their flights yesterday to avoid Iranian-controlled airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman, following a US aviation regulator’s emergency order barring the airlines from flying over the area.
The emergency order from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on June 20 came after Iran shot down a high-altitude US drone with a surface-to-air missile, sparking concerns about a threat to the safety of commercial airlines.
Hence, Singapore Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Australia's Qantas Airways, Germany's Lufthansa, British Airways and KLM of the Netherlands said they were re-routing flights to avoid the area.
The downing of the unarmed Global Hawk drone was the latest in a series of strikes in the Gulf region.
The FAA said it issued the order in response to "heightened military activities and increased political tensions that might place commercial flights at risk".
"There were numerous civil aviation aircraft operating in the area at the time of the intercept," said the FAA, adding that its prohibition would stay in place until further notice.
Ahead of the order, United Airlines said it had suspended flights between New Jersey's Newark airport and India's financial capital of Mumbai following a safety review.
Data from flight tracking website Flightradar24 yesterday showed flights from Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways in the area barred to US carriers.
Akbar al-Baker, Chief Executive of Qatar Airways said on June 17 before the US drone was shot down, that the airline "has a very robust plan B for any eventualities, including if there is a conflict in our region".
Etihad Airways said it was monitoring the situation and had adopted contingency plans.
Two other US carriers, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, said on June 20 that they did not fly over Iran. Japanese carriers Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings also said they re-routed their flights to avoid flying over the area.