“All Indian operators in consultation with DGCA have decided to avoid the affected part of Iranian Airspace to ensure safe travel for the passengers. They will re-route flights suitably,” the DGCA said on Twitter.
The civil aviation regulator on Saturday decided to ban Indian carriers from flying over the Iranian airspace, fearing an increase in hostilities between the U.S. and Iran and to ensure safety of passengers, crew and aircraft flying the route.
The decision, which will impact Air India and IndiGo, comes a day after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned U.S. carriers from flying over the Iranian airspace, days after Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. spy drone. As a result, United Airlines has suspended its direct flight from Newark to Mumbai.
In a statement issued through its Twitter handle, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said, “Indian operators, in consultation with the DGCA, have decided to avoid the affected part of Iranian airspace to ensure safe travel for passengers. They will reroute flights suitably.” It did not say whether flying was allowed over the rest of the Iranian airspace.
This move will affect flights to Europe and the U.S. from India and vice versa. While Air India’s Europe and U.S.-bound flights will be impacted, IndiGo and Air India Express’s Qatar-bound flights will have to take a different route as they fly over Iranian airspace. Several European carriers have also decided not to fly over Iran.
Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani said, “There will be no substantial effect on Air India’s flights. Details are being worked out for re-routing the incoming flights.”
The diversion will put an additional financial burden on Air India which has been incurring losses since the ban on flying over Pakistani airspace a few months ago.
Etihad Airways has suspended operations through Iranian airspace over the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, and will use alternative flight paths on a number of routes to and from Abu Dhabi until further notice, the airline said.
“These changes will cause delays on some departures from Abu Dhabi, due to increased congestion in available airspace, and will increase journey times on some routes,” it added.