Qantas redirects flights in response to downing of U.S. surveillance drone

A demonstrator holds an anti-U.S. placard during a ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution at the Azadi Freedom Square in Tehran Iran Monday Feb. 11 2019

World's airlines re-route flights after Iran downs US drone

United's action came about on Thursday, following the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issuing an emergency warning that prohibited U.S. airlines from flying over the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.

"FAA remains concerned about the escalation of tensions and military activity within close proximity to high volume civil air routes and Iran's willingness to use long-range [surface-to-air missiles] in worldwide airspace with little to no warning", it said. There were "numerous civil aviation aircraft operating in the area at the time of the intercept," the agency pointed out, with the nearest plane flying just 45 nautical miles (51 miles) away from the downed drone's location.

Iran said the US drone violated its airspace, while the USA called the missile fire "an unprovoked attack" in global airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. It says flights will continue to operate using alternative flight paths.

The Etihad Airways has also suspended operations through the Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, a spokesperson said on Saturday.

On Thursday, two other carriers, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, said they did not fly over Iran.

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Some of the world's leading carriers including British Airways, Qantas and Singapore Airlines on Friday suspended flights over the Strait of Hormuz, as Iran-US tensions flare over the downing of a drone.

Etihad Airways has announced its suspending operations through Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.

Alex Macheras, an independent aviation analyst in London, said the Hormuz diversions were another image problem for Iran after the "mass exodus" of European airlines, which had to abandon their Tehran routes following the restoration of United States sanctions. At the very least, it would seem likely to make a good deal of long-distance air travel more expensive and less convenient.

"United has conducted a thorough safety and security review of our India service through Iranian airspace and chose to suspend our service between New York/Newark and India (Mumbai) beginning this evening", the airline said in a statement late Thursday.

The threat of war between the U.S. and Iran has forced a number of airliners to suspend flihts over the Strait of Hormuz, agencies reported on Friday.

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That area probably only extends about 20 kilometres off of the Iranian coast, aviation experts said.

We recently covered the news of Iran taking out the Global Hawk drone. The airline is still serving Iran's capital, Tehran.

All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the USA and Iran into an open conflict, some 40 years after Tehran's Islamic Revolution. However, the USA said the drone was shot down in global waters and not over Iranian airspace.

"The threat of a civil aircraft shootdown in southern Iran is real", it advised operators on Thursday.

The US is seeking a way to evade the costs of standing against Iran and place them on regional countries, the Leader said, reminding certain regional countries that if they confront Iran, "they will definitely suffer blows and defeat".

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