How Will the Iran Airspace Ban Affect Commercial Aviation?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
On Friday morning, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a Notice to Airmen, an official instruction to pilots of US-registered aircraft, banning them from flying over Iranian-administered airspace in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.
The notice read: “Flights are not permitted in the overwater area of the Tehran Flight Information Region until further notice, due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions,” and follows increasing tensions between the US and Iran. The Tehran Flight Information Region means areas of the Gulf where air traffic control is handled by Iran and the overwater region includes the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.
This restriction comes after a US Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk drone was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile on June 20, which Iran says was in its airspace. The notice currently only affects aircraft registered in the US.
US-based passenger aircraft are not commonly seen in this area, given the lack of routes flown by US airlines to the Middle East. The Tehran Flight Information Region is a busy traffic area with Middle Eastern-based carriers like Emirates and Qatar operating flights to Iran. As these aircraft are not US-registered, they are not subject to the FAA notice. That said, on Thursday night, United Airlines said that it was canceling its service to Mumbai (BOM) because of safety concerns.
As of time of writing, there are several passenger planes flying over Iran from the likes of Aeroflot, Etihad and Air India.
For US-registered airlines, it is unlikely to have a significant impact for passengers in terms of changes to flight paths, which may extend flight times. If foreign-registered aircraft in the Gulf regions choose to adopt this restriction (or their local governments issue similar notices), you may find flight times on these airlines extended, which can affect punctuality if aircraft need to fly around a particular airspace, rather than directly through it.
If there is sufficient public concern about the safety of flying over this area, other, non-US airlines may voluntarily adopt the FAA instructions, to prevent concerned passengers from booking elsewhere. Europe-based KLM, Lufthansa and British Airways and Australia’s Qantas have already said they will avoid the airspace.
”Our safety and security team are constantly liaising with authorities around the world as part of their comprehensive risk assessment into every route we operate,” a British Airways spokesperson told TPG.
Etihad Airways said that it’s “carefully monitoring” the situation.
Qatar Airways already suffers from having to fly indirect flight paths due to the now longstanding diplomatic crisis between Qatar and other Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. That means Qatar Airways is restricted not only from operating flights to these countries, but also flying through their airspace to reach destinations further afield.
This is a developing story — stay tuned to TPG for updates.
Featured image by FlightRadar24.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.