Earlier this week, Iran downed a US drone, which caused the FAA to issue a directive to the US airlines to avoid the overwater area of the Iranian Airspace. This caused United to cancel their flight to Mumbai. The Iran airspace is critical, given that there are two geopolitical spats which have caused other airspace around to be rendered useless to a large extent: The GCC blockade of Qatar and the recent Pakistan Airspace closure.
On Saturday, DGCA, India’s civil aviation regulator, said that the Indian carriers have decided to “avoid the affected part of Iranian Airspace” and that “they will re-route flights suitably”. Here is the tweet they put out to this effect.
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.
— DGCA (@DGCAIndia) June 22, 2019
The DGCA move is similar to the FAA notice, but is issued more as an advisory rather than as an order. This move affects the movement of Indian carriers now over the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, which is deemed to be the centre of tensions between the US and Iran at the moment.
To be clear, the issue does not largely affect Air India’s flights to USA, given they already fly over land in Iran and not the Gulf waters to head over to European Airspace. Here is a shot of the path between Newark and Mumbai for Air India’s flights. The first shot is of a flight two days prior, and the second one is of the flight on Saturday June 22 after the guideline was implemented.
Many airlines have issued advisories that they are working around the area. Etihad, for instance,
“Following the decision yesterday of the US Federal Aviation Administration to restrict US airline operations in Iranian-controlled airspace, Etihad Airways consulted closely with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority and other UAE airlines to evaluate the US action.
Etihad Airways has subsequently suspended operations through Iranian airspace over the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, and will use alternative flight paths on a number of routes to and from Abu Dhabi until further notice.
These changes will cause delays on some departures from Abu Dhabi, due to increased congestion in available airspace, and will increase journey times on some routes.”
As your’s truly noticed himself on flying back from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai on Friday night, June 21, 2019, it took another 45 minutes to take off given the Muscat airspace is slammed right now due to the extra flights coming through them.
If you are flying west from India or into India, be prepared for vastly long delays in the coming days as compared to the original flight times you were used to, given the airspace blockades continue to cause havoc, of course, in the interest of your own security and safety.