As Tensions Rise to Boiling Point, is the Middle East Becoming a No Fly Zone?

World

The Federal Aviation Authority has banned US airlines from flying over Iran, Iraq or the Persian Gulf while conspiracy theorists on social media are speculating about the real cause of the plane crash near Tehran airport. So what does it mean for travellers?  

Commercial airlines have started rerouting flights to avoid the Middle East amid the growing tensions between the United States and Iran.

Many of the world’s busiest air routes – between Europe and India, China and Australasia and between Africa and Asia – pass over Iran, Iraq, the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Oman.

​But the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by a US drone last week and the Iranian threats of revenge, followed by missile strikes on US bases in Iraq have ramped up tensions in the region.

The FAA has banned US airlines from flying over the region and many other carriers are looking to take diversions, either over the Caspian Sea and Central Asia or over Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Indian Ocean.

​The FAA said there was `potential for miscalculation or mis-identification” and India’s aviation authority followed suit and told Indian carriers to divert.

​But the southern route means flying over the civil war in Yemen, where Houthi rebels have fired missiles at targets within Saudi Arabia.

Poland’s national carrier, LOT, said on Saturday, 4 January it would be changing routes to bypass Iran’s airspace.

It was followed on Wednesday, 8 January, by Air…

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