Airlines divert flights in wake of heightened Middle East tensions

Airlines globally reroute to avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace

Major carriers in Asia-Pacific such as Singapore Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Taiwan’s Eva Air, Malaysia Airlines and Australia’s Qantas have adjusted their flight paths, diverting routes from Iranian and Iraqi airspace.

This comes at a time of heightened tensions between US and Iraq, during which a passenger plane was shot down mistakenly by Iran on January 9.

Airlines globally reroute to avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace

Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight 752, a scheduled international passenger flight from Tehran to Kiev, was shot down shortly after takeoff from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport. All 176 passengers and crew were killed, the first fatal air accident for UIA.

After initially blaming it on technical error and denying the aeroplane was hit by a missile, Iran backpedalled, blaming “human error for the strike”, and that the plane had been “misidentified as a cruise missile”, reported the Straits Times.

The plane’s downing came hours after Iran had fired a barrage of missiles at two American air bases in neighbouring Iraq, in retaliation for a drone strike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

According to Bloomberg, the US Federal Aviation Administration has also barred civilian services over Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

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