Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

Saudia joins global carriers in avoiding Iran airspace amid escalating tensions

State-owned carrier to re-direct flight paths to some Asian destinations as precautionary measure

Saudia joins growing number if regional and global airlines in avoiding Iranian airspace amid heightened US-Iran tensions. EPA
Saudia joins growing number if regional and global airlines in avoiding Iranian airspace amid heightened US-Iran tensions. EPA

Saudi Arabian Airlines joined a growing number of global airlines in re-adjusting flight paths to avoid Iranian airspace amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran playing out in the Arabian Gulf.

Saudia, as the carrier is known, re-routed services to some Asian destinations as a precautionary measure, the carrier said in a statement on its Twitter account.

"This change will not have a significant impact on the departure and arrival dates of these flights," Saudia said.

The announcement comes after the US Federal Aviation Authority on Friday barred American carriers from flying over the Tehran flight-information region of the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, prompting airlines around the world to divert flights away from the Tehran-controlled airspace. The move follows rising tensions as the US blamed Iran for attacks on six tankers in the Gulf and for shooting down an American drone in international airspace.

Dubai-based Emirates, the world's biggest carrier by international traffic, said on Friday it re-routed flights away from areas of possible conflict.

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways said it suspended operations through Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman until further notice. The changes will cause delays in some flight departures from the capital due to airspace congestion and will lengthen travel times on some routes.

Budget carrier Flydubai said it would adjust some flight paths as a precautionary measure.

In the broader Arabian Gulf, Bahrain's Gulf Air said it is evaluating flight path changes and working with authorities on contingency plans should the situation escalate further.

Globally, Deutsche Lufthansa, Netherland's flag carrier KLM, Cathay Pacific and Australia's Qantas Airways are among carriers re-routing long-haul flights to avoid the Strait of Hormuz.

US President Donald Trump on Friday said he called off air strikes just minutes before they were scheduled to hit Iranian targets because he believed many civilians would die.

On Saturday, Mr Trump said the United States will place fresh sanctions on Iran on Monday, adding to three rounds of sanctions placed on the country since withdrawing from the nuclear deal.

The UN Security Council is set to meet on Monday to discuss the developments with Iran.

Updated: June 23, 2019 06:42 PM