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DGCA says Indian airlines will avoid ‘affected Iranian airspace’ & flights to be re-routed

DGCA order comes two days after the US aviation regulator prohibited American operators from flying over Iranian airspace due to tensions between the two nations.

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New Delhi: Two days after a US military drone was found to be “violating” the Iranian airspace, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s aviation regulator, Saturday said Indian airlines have decided to avoid the “affected part of the Iranian airspace” and re-route their flights “suitably”.

“All Indian operators in consultation with DGCA have decided to avoid the affected part of Iranian Airspace to ensure safe travel for the passengers. They will re-route flights suitably,” the DGCA tweeted.

The DGCA move comes two days after American aviation regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), issued an emergency order prohibiting US operators from flying in an overwater area of Tehran-controlled airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman due to heightened tensions between the two countries.

The FAA’s order came after Iran shot down a US drone with a surface-to-air missile, sparking concerns about a threat to the safety of commercial airlines. The US claimed the drone was in international airspace, while Iran said the drone was over its territory.

DGCA’s airspace restriction comes after Pakistan had closed its airspace on 27 February in the wake of Balakot air strikes and all flights going over it had to be rerouted. Similarly, avoiding Iranian airspace will lead to longer routes between west and south Asia, including Delhi, said a source in a private airline.

Also read: How the US and Iran arrived on the brink of war

‘No effect on Air India flights’

Ashvani Lohani, CMD, Air India, Saturday said, “No substantial effect on Air India flights. Details are being worked out for rerouting of incoming flights.”

Indigo issued a statement Friday, saying, “Few routes affected by FAA’s advisory. Alternate routes, special safety measures, instructions to pilots implemented. Constant monitoring (is) being done. Measures will be taken if necessary. All 6E flights operating as scheduled, so far.”

When contacted, SpiceJet said they haven’t issued any advisory in this regard, while there was no response from Vistara and GoAir.

Among the international airlines that will be avoiding Iranian airspace were British Airways, Qantas, United, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Air-France and KLM.

In a separate advisory to operators, the FAA had said according to flight tracking applications, the nearest civil aircraft was operating within around 45 nautical miles of a US Global Hawk drone when it was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile this week.

Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, had on 20 June tweeted: “At 00:14 US drone took off from UAE in stealth mode & violated Iranian airspace. It was targeted at 04:05 at the coordinates (25°59’43” N 57°02’25”E) near Kouh-e Mobarak. We’ve retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down.”

Also read: No sanctions for Iran’s Chabahar port or cap on H-1B, Pompeo to tell Delhi on India trip

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