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FAA bans flights over Iran airspace: Here’s what air travelers need to know

FAA bans flights over Iran airspace: Here’s what air travelers need to know
[Photo: Yeray Sánchez/Unsplash]

As tensions between the Trump administration and Iran increase, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued an emergency order barring U.S.-based airlines from flying over some airspace controlled by Iran. The FAA’s order comes after a U.S. drone was reportedly shot down by Iran, and in the wake of reports that President Trump ordered a military strike against Iran on Thursday, only to change his mind after the planes were already in the air.

The FAA made the decision over fears that Iran could misidentify a civilian aircraft as a drone, as the drone it just shot down was an unmanned aircraft that the AP describes as having “a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737 jetliner.” The order bars U.S.-based carriers from traveling in the so-called Tehran Flight Information Region, which includes areas like the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

The flight ban, which is in place indefinitely, is already causing flight cancellations, including at United Airlines where flights between New York and Mumbai have been canceled. While the FAA’s order is only for U.S. carriers, OPSGROUP, a company that provides guidance to global airlines, also sounded the alarm on Friday, saying, “The threat of a civil aircraft shootdown in southern Iran is real.”

In light of the potential threat, some international airlines are not taking chances. Germany’s Lufthansa said it had been avoiding the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman since Thursday, but that it would continue to operate its flights to Tehran. Dutch carrier KLM also told the AP it would avoid the Strait as a “precautionary measure,” and Australia’s Qantas is rerouting its flights to and from London to avoid the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.

For now, if you have a flight plan that could fly over the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Oman, contact your airline for updates.

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