Air India and Vistara Flights Avoid Iranian Airspace Amid Rising Tensions

New Delhi: In the wake of India’s advisory on Friday asking its nationals to avoid travel to Iran and Israel following escalating hostility between those two nations, Air India flights bound westwards to Europe and beyond are now avoiding Iranian airspace along with several other international carriers, sources confirmed on Saturday.

Online media reports too cited a flight-tracking website that showed that an Air India flight to London on Saturday morning had avoided Iranian airspace. Besides Air India, Vistara flights also avoided the Iranian airspace for their west-bound flights on Saturday.

According to industry sources, all Air India flights bound for Europe could now take up to 45 minutes longer to reach their destinations. Air India flights to the Middle East, however, will not be impacted as they fly south of Iranian airspace.

This comes a day after the ministry of external affairs "advised" Indian nationals to avoid travelling to Iran and Israel. Air India operated its flight to Tel Aviv on Saturday and is yet to announce any cancellations. No Indian carrier flies to Iran.

Air India and Vistara flights from Mumbai to Europe take the Iranian route. Flights from Delhi opt for routes via Iran or one via Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

On Saturday, Vistara's Mumbai-Europe flights took the northern route via Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Air India's flights to London from Ahmedabad and Kochi too skipped the Iran routes on Saturday.

"Due to the current situation affecting parts of the Middle East (West Asia), we are making changes to the flight paths of some of our flights. Contingency routes, which are kept available to ensure operational continuity during such eventualities, are being used instead. This may result in longer flight times on certain routes and associated delays. The situation is being monitored closely and further changes will be made if required," Vistara said in a statement.

It remains to be seen how these developments will financially impact both the airlines and the passengers in the long run if hostilities in West Asia continue to rise as the threat of a major conflict between two nations looms in the region.

Amid the escalating tensions in West Asia, India had on Friday advised its nationals “not to travel to Iran or Israel till further notice”. The travel advisory was issued following the recent attack on an Iranian diplomatic mission in Syria, for which Iran has blamed Israel and vowed retaliation against the Jewish State.

In a statement, New Delhi had said, “In view of the prevailing situation in the region, all Indians are advised not to travel to Iran or Israel till further notice. All those who are currently residing in Iran or Israel are requested to get in touch with Indian embassies there and register themselves. They are also requested to observe the utmost precautions about their safety and restrict their movements to the minimum.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle with agency inputs )
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