Qantas will re-route some flights to Europe as airlines avoid airspace around Iran after Tehran launched a missile attack on US-led forces in neighbouring Iraq on Wednesday.
The US Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday banned US carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran, the Gulf of Oman and the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
That order is not binding for airlines from other countries, but carriers typically consider the FAA’s advice when making safety decisions.
Qantas’ non-stop flights between Perth to London (QF9 and QF10) frequently fly over Iran and Iraq. The airline said on Wednesday it would redirect those flight to go over Afghanistan instead, following flights from Australia’s east coast which travel via Singapore.
However, 90 passengers will be bumped from Qantas’ 236-seat Boeing Dreamliners on the leg from Perth to London to reduce weight and enable the jet to travel the longer route, a Qantas spokesman said.
Return flights from London can operate with a full passenger load thanks to prevailing easterly tailwinds.
Qantas is considering operating QF9 to London with a fuel stop in Singapore so it can operate with a full passenger load, the spokesman said.
In June Qantas re-routed flights to avoid the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman after Iran shot down an American surveillance drone, which prompted the FAA to ban US airlines from the area and from flying below 26,000 feet over Iraq.
The FAA said the airspace ban was issued “due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations”.
Singapore Airlines said on Wednesday it was diverting all of its flights from Iranian Airspace, while aircraft tracking site FlightRadar24 showed several commercial aircraft, including a British Airways B777, diverting mid-flight to avoid flying over Iran.
Carriers are increasingly taking steps to limit threats to their planes after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down in 2014 by a missile over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.
Re-routing around conflict airspace adds to flight times and burns extra fuel.
OPSGROUP, which advises airlines on security threats, said the new US airspace bans were “significant”, particularly given that the entire overwater airspace in the region is now unavailable.
“Flights headed to and from the main airports in the region such as Dubai will now need to route through Saudi Arabia’s airspace,” it said on its website.
– with Reuters
Source: Thanks smh.com