Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

Etihad warns of delays after suspending operations over Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman

UAE's flag carrier said safety was paramount amid rising US-Iran tensions

Etihad Airways said it had adjusted some of its routes. Courtesy Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways said it had adjusted some of its routes. Courtesy Etihad Airways

The UAE's flag carrier Etihad Airways has suspended all operations through Iranian airspace over the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, it said on Saturday

Etihad said it will use alternative flight paths on a number of routes to and from Abu Dhabi until further notice.

It warned customers of potential delays on some fights because of the measure.

"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," a spokesperson said.

"The safety of our passengers and staff is the highest priority for Etihad Airways, and we are continually engaging with regulatory authorities and conducting our own risk assessments to ensure that our standards are not compromised.

The UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) also on Saturday called on air operators in the country to evaluate flight paths as tensions between the US and Iran continue to simmer.

The directive comes following Iran's downing of a US drone in international airspace, further inflaming relations between two countries.

Emirates, Etihad and Flydubai said on Friday they had already rerouted some of their flights after US authorities prohibited American carriers from flying over Iranian waters.

The GCAA said that given current regional developments and as a precautionary measure, UAE-registered air operators need to avoid operating in areas that could jeopardise civil aviation safety and operations.

All UAE carriers - including Etihad, Emirates and Flydubai - reiterated that safety was paramount when taking these types of decisions.

"In light of the current situation, Emirates has taken precautionary measures including rerouting all flights away from areas of possible conflict," a spokesperson said on Friday.

Etihad Airways, meanwhile, said it had been in close contact with the GCAA before deciding to reroute flights.

"Safety is paramount to Etihad Airways, and together with the GCAA we have agreed to change a number of the flight paths we operate to and from the Arabian Gulf," a spokesperson said.

Many of the world's airlines including Lufthansa, KLM, Cathay Pacific and Qantas Airways are among carriers re-routing flights to avoid the Strait of Hormuz.

Tensions have been brewing between the US and Iran for some months. America blamed Iran for attacks on oil tankers operating in the region and Iran's shooting down of a drone was the latest escalation.

US president, Donald Trump, on Friday said he called off air strikes on Iran because he believed many civilians would die..

Now the UN Security Council is set to meet on Monday to discuss the issue.

Updated: June 23, 2019 02:51 PM

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