Daily Management Review

US Airline Regulator Prohibits Flights Over A Portion Of Airspace Controlled By Iran


United States airline operators have been asked not to fly crafts over the overwater area of Tehran-controlled airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman because of the increased between the US and Iran. This emergency order was issued to te US operators by the US Federal Aviation Administration according to media reports.
Just a few hours before the order from the US FAA flights between New Jersey’s Newark airport and the Indian financial capital of Mumbai were suspended by United Airlines. The route traverses over Iranian airspace. This order was issued after a security review following the shooting down of a high-altitude US surveillance drone by Iran.  
In recent months, there has been a series of incidents in the Gulf region - which is a critical pathway for movement of global crude oil, which included attacks on six oil tankers. This tension was build up upon by the shooting down of the US drone which was unarmed and was called Global Hawk which can fly at up to 60,000 feet.
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,” FAA said.
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.
While flights from other countries are not included in the US prohibition, but this prohibition would also be considered by carriers from countries, said the OPSGROUP, which provides guidance to operators.
“Since MH17, all countries rely on advice from the US, the UK, France and Germany to highlight airspace risk,” OPSGROUP said. “The threat of a civil aircraft shootdown in southern Iran is real.”
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. There were no comments available from Qatar and Etihad.
Following a “thorough safety and security review”, it had suspended its flights to India through Iran airspace, United said. Alternative flights to the US would be provided to customers flying from Mumbai to Newark, said a United spokesman. “We continue to explore all our options and remain in close contact with relevant government authorities in order to provide our customers with the most efficient travel experience under these circumstances,” the spokesman said.
Following the announcement by United, two other US carriers - American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, also announced their decision of not flying over Iran. Flights over the prohibited region were also avoided by Japanese carriers Japan Airlines Co Ltd and ANA Holdings Inc, the airlines said.

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