An emergency prohibiting order from the United States’ aviation governmental body Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bans the airline operators from flying in an overwater area of Iran-controlled airspace due to heightened political tension. The area lies over the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.
A day before, Iran shot down a surveillance drone in the area. Following this incident, United Airlines has suspended flights between New Jersey’s Newark airport and Mumbai. There is no information on how long the suspension will last.
Given current events in Iran, we have conducted a thorough safety and security review of our India service through Iranian airspace and decided to suspend our service, United published on its website.
According to a report by the Economic Times, the passengers flying from Mumbai to Newark will be booked on alternative flights back to the United States. We continue to explore all our options and remain in close contact with relevant government authorities to provide our customers with the most efficient travel experience under these circumstances, the report quoted a United Airlines’ the spokesman.
American Airlines and Delta Air Airlines have also announced that they will not fly over Iran for the time being.
The gunned down surveillance drone Global Hawk aircraft was a high-altitude drone capable of flying up to 60,000 ft. The flight tracking data showed that commercial aircraft were flying close to the unpiloted Global Hawk at the time it was shot down.
The threat of a civil aircraft shootdown in southern Iran is real. Avoiding the Strait of Hormuz area is recommended – misidentification of aircraft is possible, said OPSGROUP, a group that provides safety instruction to aviation operators said.
FAA released a warning last month advising airlines to stay careful while flying over Iran and nearby areas due to increased military activities and political tension in the area. “Although Iran likely has no intention to target civil aircraft, the presence of multiple long-range, advanced aircraft capable weapons in a tensed environment poses a possible miscalculation or misidentification, especially during periods of heightened political tensions,” it said.