Wednesday 8 January 2020 12:57 am

Airlines divert flights around Iran and Iraq after missile attacks and Boeing crash

A host of airlines have said they will divert flight routes over the Middle East after Iran launched missile attacks on US air bases in Iraq last night.

The announcements come after a Boeing jet also crashed over the Iranian capital overnight, killing 176 people.

Airlines including Qantas, Etihad, Singapore and Emirates said they will change their flight paths to avoid the two countries’ airspace.

Read more: Iran plane crash: Three Brits killed as 176 die in Boeing 737 disaster

Lufthansa said it had cancelled today’s flights to and from Tehran. The German carrier later said it would resume flights to the Iranian capital on Thursday, and would continue to fly around Iranian and Iraqi airspace.

Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles from its territory targeting at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US-led coalition personnel early on Wednesday, the US military said.

Within hours, US aviation regulator the FAA had barred US carriers from airspace over Iran, the Gulf of Oman and the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It cited “due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations”.

The flight ban came shortly before a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 burst into flames shortly after take-off from Tehran, in a crash blamed by Ukrainian authorities on an engine failure.

A spokesperson for British Airways said the UK’s flag carrier was in “constant contact” with partners around the world to assess the security of its routes. They said they would not say whether plans or flight paths had been changed for security reasons.

However, according to flight tracking website Flightradar, a BA flight from Benguluru to London appeared to have swerved Iranian airspace.

It comes after three Brits were among the those killed by the Boeing 737-800 plane crash in Iran today.

A total of 167 passengers and nine crew members were on the Ukraine International Airlines flight to Kiev, which crashed shortly after take-off.

Iranian state media said there were no survivors and quoted officials from Tehran’s international airport who said “technical problems” were behind the disaster.

“We are carefully monitoring the developments and are in close contact with the relevant government authorities with regards to our flight operations, and will make further operational changes if required,” Emirates said in a statement.

In a statement, Singapore Airlines said: “In view of the latest developments in the region, all SIA flights in and out of Europe are diverted from the Iranian airspace.”

Virgin Atlantic, Malaysia Airlines, Air Canada and Taiwan’s China Airlines were also among carriers that re-routed flights.

Read more: UK condemns Iran attack on US military bases in Iraq

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will make the appropriate adjustments to our routes if necessary,” it added.

Before the latest guidance, the FAA had already prohibited US carriers from flying below 26,000ft over Iraq and from flying over an area of Iranian airspace above the Gulf and Gulf of Oman since Iran shot down a high-altitude US drone last June.

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