Following Iran’s missile attacks Tuesday on two U.S.-occupied air bases in Iraq, the FAA issued a Notam preventing U.S. air carriers from overflying Iran, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and the Gulf of Oman. Although the order applies only to U.S. operators, several international airlines have rerouted flights around the region, including Ukraine International Airlines, which saw one of its Boeing 737-800s crash minutes after taking off for a flight to Kiev from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 176 people on board.
While the crash nearly coincided with the launch of a dozen missiles at U.S. military forces in Iraq by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, no evidence yet exists of a connection between the events.
Nevertheless, aviation information service OpsGroup has advised operators to assume that the airplane was shot down until further notice. Images posted on the OpsGroup web site show apparent projectile holes in the fuselage and a wing section. Whether the projectile was an engine part or a missile fragment remains the subject of conjecture but operators should err “on the side of caution,” it said.
Middle Eastern airlines that on Wednesday canceled flights to Baghdad include EgyptAir, Emirates Airline, and Flydubai. On Friday, Bahrain-based Gulf Air, Saudi Arabia’s Flynas and Royal Jordanian Airlines canceled all their service to and from Baghdad in reaction to the killing that day of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani by U.S. forces as he was being driven from Baghdad Airport.
Other airlines to announce plans to re-route flights around Iranian and Iraqi airspace include Qantas, Air France, and Lufthansa, which also canceled its service to and from Tehran and Erbil.