Turkey’s national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) and budget airline Pegasus resumed flights to Iran and Iraq Thursday evening after they were suspended briefly due to U.S.-Iran tensions.
A THY flight was scheduled to depart for Tehran at 9:05 p.m. local time, and Pegasus had a flight scheduled to the Iraqi capital Baghdad at 5:45 p.m. local time, according to Turkish news agencies.
Earlier Wednesday, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq. Iran's actions were in retaliation to last week's U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
A Ukrainian airliner carrying 176 people crashed on the outskirts of Tehran shortly after taking off from Iran’s capital Wednesday just hours after Iran’s ballistic missile attack, scattering flaming debris and passengers' belongings across farmland and killing everyone on board.
The Iranian military disputed any suggestion the plane had been blown out of the sky by a missile, and Iranian aviation authorities said they suspected a mechanical problem brought down the three-and-a-half-year-old Boeing 737. Ukrainian officials initially agreed but later backed away and declined to offer a cause while the investigation is ongoing.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it was barring American pilots and carriers from flying in areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace. The agency warned of the “potential for miscalculation or misidentification" for civilian aircraft amid heightened tensions between the Washington and Tehran.
Such restrictions are often precautionary in nature to prevent civilian aircraft from being confused for ones engaged in armed conflict.
Air France and Dutch carrier KLM both said Wednesday that they had suspended all flights over Iranian and Iraqi airspace indefinitely. German airline Lufthansa and two of its subsidiaries also canceled flights to Iraq.
The Russian aviation agency, Rosaviatsia, issued an official recommendation for all Russian airlines to avoid flying over Iran, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman “due to existing risks for the safety of international civil flights.”
Russia's biggest private airline, S7, said it would reroute its twice-a-week flight from the Siberian city of Novosibirsk to Dubai. Asia-Pacific carriers, which operate many of the world's long-haul flights, were also expected to be hit hard by the ad hoc no-fly zone over Iran. Poland's national carrier, PLL LOT, said Saturday that it was changing routes to bypass Iran's airspace.
Australian carrier Qantas said it was altering its London to Perth, Australia route to avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace until further notice. The longer route meant that Qantas would have to carry fewer passengers and more fuel to remain in the air for an extra 40 to 50 minutes.
Malaysia Airlines said that “due to recent events,” its planes would avoid Iranian airspace. Singapore Airlines also said that its flights to Europe would be rerouted to avoid Iran.
Taiwanese carriers China Airlines and EVA Airways said they rerouted flights to Europe on Wednesday to skirt Iraqi and Iranian airspace. They said future route decisions would depend on regional developments.
India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation advised Indian commercial carriers to avoid Iranian, Iraqi and Persian Gulf airspace.
Buta Airways, an Azerbaijani low-cost carrier, said Wednesday that it was not planning to suspend or reroute daily flights between Baku, the country's capital, and Tehran.
In North America, Air Canada rerouted its flight from Toronto to Dubai through Egypt and Saudi Arabia to avoid traveling over Iraq.
In the Middle East, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-owned budget airline flydubai said it had canceled a scheduled flight Wednesday from Dubai to Baghdad but was continuing flights to Basra and Najaf.
Etihad Airways, the second-largest airline in the UAE, continued to operate on a regular schedule. Emirates airline flights between Dubai and Baghdad were canceled. Qatar Airways said its flights to Iraq were operating normally.
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