Major international airlines are canceling and re-routing flights in the Middle East after the reports of Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 crashed in Iran on Tuesday, killing all 176 people on board.
Iran is facing mounting pressure to explain the destruction of a civilian airliner near Tehran hours after Iranian forces launched missile strikes against US forces. Various speculations are circulating regarding the crash of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752.
Air France (AFLYY), Lufthansa (DLAKY), Malaysia Airlines and Taiwan’s EVA Air said they were avoiding the airspace above Iran and Iraq. Singapore Airlines (SINGF) said it would not fly over Iran.
Data from flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 showed air traffic continuing over the region, but primarily from regional airlines or UAE and Qatari airlines.
Several airlines canceled flights due to the restrictions and escalating tensions. Lufthansa said it would not fly to Tehran or the Iraqi city of Erbil, while Emirates canceled flights between Dubai and Baghdad, CNN reported.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) on Tuesday establishing a no-fly zone for US aviators over Iran and Iraq, after Iran fired missiles at an Iraqi base housing US military personnel. The attack was in retaliation for a US airstrike in Iraq that killed Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani.
The NOTAM, which also prohibited US civil aircraft from flying above “the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman,” was issued due to the “potential for miscalculation or misidentification” for civilian planes, the FAA said.
When it was issued, the NOTAM was based only on the possibility of a civilian plane being misidentified as a military target. Shortly after Iran’s missile strike on the Iraqi base, a Ukraine International Airlines flight from Tehran to Kyiv crashed within minutes of taking off.
Iranian officials initially said that there was a mechanical issue and implied the timing was a coincidence. However, on Thursday, US intelligence officials said that it was “highly likely” that the plane had been shot down accidentally by Iran.
Although the ban only applies to US airlines and cargo carriers, few of which typically fly over the affected airspace, numerous global airlines have chosen to follow the guidance anyway.