GCC, global airlines scramble to change routes after Israeli attack on Iran

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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 an 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 after the attack, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

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By 0445 GMT the airports and airspace had reopened, and closure notices posted on a US Federal Aviation Administration database had been removed.

Before the airports reopened, Flydubai said it had cancelled 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.

“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.

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 cancelled to and from Dubai, approximately 30 percent 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.

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 on 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 to 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 (FAA) 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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