Carriers scramble to reroute flights as alleged Israeli strike hits Iran air traffic

Airports in Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan briefly shuttered, Iran’s western airspace cleared during attack; cancellations compound woes for water-logged Dubai

Illustrative: People stand on the tarmac next to a Flydubai airline after it landed at Kabul International Airport in Kabul on November 15, 2023. (AFP)
Illustrative: People stand on the tarmac next to a Flydubai airline after it landed at Kabul International Airport in Kabul on November 15, 2023. (AFP)

REUTERS — Airlines quickly changed flight paths over Iran, diverted to alternate airports or returned planes to their departure points on Friday in response to airspace and airport closures after a reported Israeli attack on Iran, flight tracking data showed.

Iran closed its airports in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan after the attack and cleared flights from the western portion of its airspace for a few hours, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

By 8:15 a.m. local time, the airports and airspace had reopened, and closure notices posted on a United States Federal Aviation Administration database had been removed.

Before the airports reopened, Flydubai said it had canceled its Friday flights to Iran. One of its earlier flights turned back to Dubai, it said.

An Iran Air flight from Rome to Tehran was diverted to Ankara, Turkey, Flightradar 24 showed.

Emirates, Flydubai, Turkish Air, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and Belavia were among the carriers continuing to fly over the part of Iran’s airspace that remained open in the initial hours after the attack early on Friday, the tracking website showed.

A handout image grab made available by the Iranian state TV, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), shows what the TV said was a live picture of the city of Isfahan early on April 19, 2024, following reports of explosions heard in the province in central Iran. (IRIB/AFP)

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will make changes to our flight paths in consultation with the relevant authorities,” Flydubai said in a statement.

When it rains, it pours

The airspace and airport closures in Iran compounded a difficult week for Dubai-based carriers after record rainfall in the United Arab Emirates.

Since Tuesday, 1,478 flights have been canceled to and from Dubai, approximately 30% of all flights, according to FlightRadar24.

Many Western and Asian airlines had already been steering clear of Iran and its airspace before the Israeli attack, which came days after Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel.

Air defense fire interceptors during a drone and missile attack by Iran as seen over Jerusalem, April 14, 2024. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

Germany’s Lufthansa on Wednesday extended a suspension of flights to Tehran until the end of the month, citing ongoing security concerns in the region.

Australia’s Qantas Airways said on Saturday it was rerouting flights between Perth and London with concerns about the Middle East, adding a fuel stop in Singapore as it avoided Iran’s airspace.

Taiwan’s China Airlines said in a statement that it “continues to pay attention to the situation as it develops and plans the most appropriate routes in accordance with the recommendations of the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.”

Etihad Airways, which does not fly to Iran, said it “continuously monitors security and airspace updates, safety is always our highest priority and we would never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so.”

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