IndiGo, Air India review alternate routes over Iran-US tensions

IndiGo has changed routes of its West Asia flights while Air India is looking at alternative routes to Europe and the US in view of tensions in the region, after an Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down an American drone. 

United Airlines of the US has indefinitely suspended its Newark-Mumbai flight amid safety concerns. European airlines, too, have announced that their flights will avoid parts of Iranian airspace.   

“A few routes are affected by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) advisory. Alternative routes and adequate special safety measures and instructions to pilots have been implemented. The situation is constantly being monitored and measures will be taken if necessary. All IndiGo flights are operating on schedule,” IndiGo said in a statement. IndiGo flights to Doha and Dubai briefly cross Iranian airspace.

An Air India executive, on the other hand, said: “We are monitoring the situation. As of now, we continue to operate flights over Iran as there is no directive from the Indian government.” The national carrier is, however, studying alternative routes in case instructions are received from the government, the executive added. 

Currently, Air India and United operate non-stop flights between India and the US. United had earlier cancelled Newark-Delhi flights due to the closure of Pakistan airspace. Air India continues to operate its Europe and US flights as scheduled, but is taking longer routes due to the closure. Air India’s flights to the US are taking a halt at Vienna or Stockholm. 

“Given current events in Iran, United has conducted a thorough safety and security review of our India service through Iranian airspace and decided to suspend our service between Newark and Mumbai," United said in a statement. It added that impacted passengers would be rebooked on alternative flights. 

"We continue to explore all our options and remain in close contact with relevant government authorities in order to provide our customers with the most efficient travel experience under these circumstances," it said.

The tensions in the region and the resulting flight suspension could result in a spike in air fares, according travel portal ixigo. “The current average return air fare between Mumbai and Newark is around Rs 93,500. With airlines now suspending and re-routing flights to avoid Iranian airspace, we expect 10-15 per cent hike in fares to Newark-bound flights,” ixigo said.

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