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Home » Iran-israel Tensions: Brace for Longer, More Expensive Flights to Europe. Here’s Why

Iran-israel Tensions: Brace for Longer, More Expensive Flights to Europe. Here’s Why

by Rio Spencer
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The escalating tensions in West Asia after Iran’s attack on Israel could affect your travel plans. Several international airlines including Air India are avoiding the Iranian airspace, a route frequently used to travel between Europe and India or Southeast Asia. As flight time increases, so does the cost of fuel and this could lead to a surge in airfare

AFP

Will Israel now attack Iran to retaliate for Saturday’s strike? The fear of yet another war looms large. You might be far removed from the tensions in West Asia but they are likely to impact everyday living. Your travel plans will be affected and airfares are likely to soar.

After Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel in a five-hour assault, it prompted several countries in West Asia like Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Kuwait to temporarily close their airspaces. Both Iran and Israel also imposed restrictions on air traffic. Now the airspaces have opened but airlines are reluctant to take the routes as the region remains volatile. They are looking at new options to operate between Asia and Europe.

As tensions simmer between Iran and Israel, here’s what you need to know if you are flying overseas.

Airlines that have been affected by Iran-Israel tensions

Air India has temporarily suspended its flights to Tel Aviv and other Indian airlines have charted alternative flight paths to avoid the Iranian airspace. The Tata Group-owned carrier operates four weekly flights between New Delhi and the Israeli city. The move comes as India advised its citizens not to travel to Iran and Israel until further notice.

Air India, Vistara, and IndiGo are avoiding Iranian airspace and have opted for alternative paths for their flights to the West.

An official in the know said that IndiGo, which operates flights to Istanbul with aircraft leased from Turkish Airlines, is staying away from the Iranian airspace. Vistara also changed some of its flight paths because of the situation in West Asia.

Australia’s Qantas Airways, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa have also decided to avoid troubled spaces.

Reuters

Days before Iran’s attack, Lufthansa Group suspended flights to several West Asian cities. The company, which includes Germany’s flag carrier Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Swiss International Air, will resume flights to Tel Aviv, Amman and Iraq’s Ebril on Tuesday but those to Beirut and Tehran will be halted until Thursday, reports Bloomberg.

Etihad Airways cancelled services to Tel Aviv and Amman on Sunday and Emirates too cancelled some flights. Qatar Airways and Emirates resumed some suspended services to West Asia after airspaces reopened.

Cathay Pacific is keeping a close eye on the situation in West Asia but operations remain normal, a spokesperson was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

Reuters

The impact on flight duration, airfares

Iran’s airspace is frequently used by airlines operating between Europe and India or Southeast Asia. With the latest diversion, flight duration will be prolonged. This means more fuel would be required to operate along these routes.

A case in point is Qantas’ direct Perth to London flight. It will now stop over in Singapore for the extra fuel needed for re-routing around the troubled region.

An Air India flight from Delhi to London did not fly over Iran on Saturday. Instead, of the usual India-Pakistan-Iran-Turkey Black Sea route to Europe, it followed a northern path, flying over Russia, reports The Times of India (TOI).

Lufthansa’s Frankfurt-Mumbai flight took the Greece-Midettrrenean Sea-Saudi Arabia-Persian Gulf-Arabian Sea route. It would earlier fly over the Black Sea, Iran and Pakistan. A spokesperson for the German carrier told TOI, “We have temporarily flying over Iranian Airspace until 18 April. Security is our number one priority.”

With additional fuel needed, the cost of airfare is also likely to rise.

A senior aircraft pilot at an Indian carrier told the news agency Press Trust of India that the alternative paths are increasing the flight duration. With the revised flight paths chosen after taking safety and security into consideration, the duration of some flights has increased by around half an hour, the pilot said.

Such a scenario will result in higher operational costs, increased fuel usage and more crew members might have to be roped in for flights due to duty time limitations. According to the pilot, the rise in expenses could even be passed on to the passengers, which means that international airfares could go up.

The recent disruptions in air travel

Airspaces across West Asia have been facing risks as tensions rise in the region. It has been a volatile few months for several countries as fear of a wider conflict has been persistent since the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel .

In the early days of the Israel-Hamas conflict, airlines faced massive disruptions, mostly centred around Tel Aviv. Many airlines cancelled flights in and out of the country.

Air India suspended the Delhi-Tel Aviv route in October last year and resumed operations only on 3 March.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has also affected air travel. After Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, access to both airspaces was cut off, leading to lengthy diversions which continue to this day. Most Western airlines do not fly over the two nations.

While US carriers have been avoiding Iran for some time, several commercial airlines do not fly over Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the country in August 2021.

In August last year, the US started easing rules that allowed commercial airlines to fly over the country to cut time and fuel consumption for East-West travel. But airlines like American Airlines and Air India continue to be reluctant.

Some travel south over Iran and Pakistan. Other flights rush through Afghan airspace for only a few minutes while over the sparsely populated Wakhan Corridor, a narrow panhandle that juts out of the east of the country between Tajikistan and Pakistan, before continuing on their way, reports The Associated Press.

But now with escalating tensions in West Asia, airlines are facing more turbulance.

Source: First Post

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