Iran-US tensions: Aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), on Wednesday asked Indian airlines to steer clear of the Iranian airspace amid the country's escalating tensions with US. The DGCA asked Indian airlines to remain vigilant and take all necessary precautions in airspace over Iran, Iraq, Gulf of Oman and waters of Persian Gulf. The advisory came after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 people crashed near Tehran.
The DGCA called a meeting and said that the airlines were "sensitised", according to a senior official of the regulator.
Air India has decided to reroute its flights that use the Iranian airspace. "In light of the tensions within the Iranian airspace a decision to temporarily reroute flights of Air India (AI) and Air India Express (AIX) overflying Iran has been taken. This may lead to increase in flying time by approximately 20 minutes for flights from Delhi and 30 to 40 minutes for flights from Mumbai," it said.
Additionally, the Indian government has issued a travel advisory asking Indian citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Iraq. "In view of the prevailing situation in Iraq, Indian nationals are advised to avoid all non-essential travel to Iraq until further notification," the advisory by the Ministry of External Affairs said. It said Indian nationals residing in Iraq are advised to be alert and may avoid travel within Iraq.
US Federal Aviation Administration has also asked all American airlines to stop operating in the Iranian airspace as well as over Iraq, water of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.
The situation in the Middle East region is tense because of Iran's missile strikes against two US military bases in Iraq on Wednesday. The strikes were in retaliation of US' airstrike at the Baghdad airport that killed top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani on January 3.
An Ukrainian flight to Kiev crashed on Wednesday killing everyone onboard. Qassem Biniaz, spokesperson for Iran's Road and Transportation Authority, said one of the engines of Boeing 737 aircraft, which had 167 passengers and nine crew members, of the Ukranian International airlines was struck by fire immediately after the take off, causing the plane to crash.