Iranian missile attacks on US airbases in Iraq may cause longer flight times for Aussies travelling to Europe, as well as amended cruise itineraries.
Qantas has confirmed it is among the airlines choosing to divert its flight paths over the middle east to avoid airspace over Iraq and Iran.
A spokesperson for the national carrier told Travel Weekly it is looking at temporarily rerouting its non-stop Perth to London flight (QF9 and QF10), altering the flying time by about 40 to 50 minutes. The airline may also need to reduce the numbers of passengers on board in order to carry more fuel.
“This would mean a fuel stop in a city like Singapore or Hong Kong but it would enable us to still carry a full load of passengers on these heavily-booked flights, and minimise disruption that way,” the spokesperson said.
“We’ll reach out to passengers directly if there’s any change to their booking.”
Spokespersons from Singapore Airlines and Finnair have also confirmed to Travel Weekly that they will be rerouting flights to avoid Iranian or Iraqui airspace.
Tehran launched “tens” of surface-to-air missiles at the US-owned Al-Assad and Erbil bases, in response to the US’ assassination of top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani.
As a result of rising tensions between the two countries, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced in a statement it was prohibiting US pilots and carriers from flying in Iraqui, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspaces.
#FAA Statement: #NOTAMs issued outlining flight restrictions that prohibit U.S. civil aviation operators from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. pic.twitter.com/kJEbpPddp3
— The FAA (@FAANews) January 8, 2020
Following the lead of the FAA, many more carriers have decided to alter their flight paths to avoid the areas, according to ABC News, including Malaysia Airlines, China Airlines, Emirates and Air Canada.
The cruise industry has also been impacted, with several lines operating in the area signalling they are watching the situation closely.
MSC Cruises told Travel Weekly it has heightened its vigilance for the Gulf region and will monitor the situation closely.
“We are consulting with official travel advisory bodies and are in constant contact with local and international authorities,” a spokesperson for the cruise line said.
“So far, we have not received any intelligence suggesting that there is reason for our itineraries to be altered, or shore excursions to be cancelled. Our cruise ships will sail as planned and per schedule.”
Likewise, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean has told Travel Weekly the line is “working closely with authorities to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests and crew”.
“We are communicating directly with our guests and will advise them if any schedule changes become necessary,” the spokesperson said.
Scenic said that while it will continue to watch the situation closely with its team in Egypt, the current Australian government travel advice for the Middle East has not changed following the events of the past few days.
The current safety advice on Smartraveller for Iran is to “reconsider your need to travel”, as security remains “volatile” and could “deteriorate with little notice”.
The advice for Iraq remains “Do not travel”.