According to media reports quoting various airlines, a ni8mber of them are avoiding airspace controlled by the Iranians over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman and are rerouting flights since the issuing of the ban on Friday by the US regulator on US airlines flying over the airspace for an unscheduled period of time.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued the ban on its airlines following the bringing down of an American drone by security forces of Iran in the Middle East on Thursday with a surface-to-air missile. That incident followed a security review by the FAA over concerns of a threat to the safety of commercial airlines which resulted in the regulator issuing the order.
A unmanned, unarmed military surveillance US drone was brought down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile on Thursday. According to Washington, the drone was shot while it was flying over the Strait of Hormuz which is a recognized international waterway. Iran however claimed that the done had violated into Iranian airspace after which it was brought down.
When the US Global Hawk drone was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired by Iran, the closest civil aircraft that was in the vicinity was about 45 nautical miles according to the FAA who said this on the basis of flight tracking applications.
“There were numerous civil aviation aircraft operating in the area at the time of the intercept,” the FFA said, adding that its prohibition would stay in place until further notice.
Flights between New Jersey’s Newark airport and India’s financial capital of Mumbai were suspended by United Airlines just hours earlier after conducting a security review.
According to media reports, routes of flights over the airspace in question were also changed bya host of airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd, Singapore Airlines Ltd, Germany’s Lufthansa, British Airways and KLM of the Netherlands.
Aircrafts from Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways were located in the area prohibited for US carriers at 0300 GMT on Friday, showed data from the flight tracking website Flightradar24. Both the airlines later said that the routes over the region were being changed and rerouted by them.
The increase in tension between the US and Iran, as well as the military activity close to the zone through which high volume civil aircrafts traverse is a cause of concern for the US, said the FAA. This was compounded by perceived non-reluctance of Iran to make use of long-range missiles in international airspace without giving any or very little warning.
But according to air safety experts, there is a considerable amount of dearth in intelligence sharing among governments and the non-sharing of information by those countries that are engaged in conflicts or the reluctance to forgo the overflight fees for safety reasons by closing down the skies where there is a perception of danger for commercial flights.
In those regions where there is overcrowding of airspace, there is a high degree of complication because of restriction of airspace resulting in issues for airlines to keep routes open.
(Adapted form Reuters.com)