Airlines reroute flights after Israeli attack on Iran

By Jamie Freed

(Reuters) -Airlines changed flight paths over Iran, cancelled some flights, diverted others to alternate airports or returned planes to their departure points on Friday due to airspace and airport closures and security concerns after an Israeli attack on Iran.

Iran closed its airports in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan after the attack and cleared flights from the western portion of its airspace for a few hours after the attack, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

By 0445 GMT the airports and airspace had reopened, and closure notices posted on a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration database had been removed.

Before the airports reopened, Flydubai said it had cancelled its Friday flights to Iran. One of its earlier flights turned back to Dubai, it said.

An Iran Air flight from Rome to Tehran was diverted to Ankara, Turkey, Flightradar 24 showed.

Germany's Lufthansa cancelled all flights to Tel Aviv and Erbil until Saturday and said it would fly around Iraqi airspace during the same period.

"The safety of passengers and crews is always the top priority," it said.

United Airlines said it would cancel its daily flight from Newark to Tel Aviv through May 2, while Air Canada said it was pausing operations to and from Tel Aviv until June end.

Emirates, Flydubai, Turkish Air, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and Belavia were among the carriers continuing to fly over the part of Iran's airspace that remained open in the initial hours after the attack early on Friday, the tracking website showed.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and will make changes to our flight paths in consultation with the relevant authorities," Flydubai said in a statement.

The airspace and airport closures in Iran compounded a difficult week for Dubai-based carriers after record rainfall in the United Arab Emirates.

On Friday, Dubai's main airport, one of the world's busiest, said it would limit the number of flights arriving for two days, as it struggles to clear a backlog three days after the storm.

Since Tuesday, 1,478 flights have been cancelled to and from Dubai, about 30% of all flights, according to FlightRadar24.


Many Western and Asian airlines had already been steering clear of Iran and its airspace before the Israeli attack, which came days after Iran's missile and drone attack on Israel.

Lufthansa on Wednesday extended a suspension of flights to Tehran until the end of the month, citing ongoing security concerns in the region.

Australia's Qantas Airways said on Saturday it was rerouting flights between Perth and London on concerns about the Middle East, adding a fuel stop in Singapore as it avoided Iran's airspace.

Taiwan's China Airlines said in a statement that it "continues to pay attention to the situation as it develops and plans the most appropriate routes in accordance with the recommendations of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency".

Taiwan's EVA Air told Reuters that its flights had already been avoiding Iranian air space.

Etihad Airways, which does not fly to Iran, said it "continuously monitors security and airspace updates, safety is always our highest priority and we would never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so."

(Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney; Additional reporting by Alexander Cornwell, Jana Choukeir in Dubai, Ben Blanchard in Taipei, Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt and Tim Hepher in Paris, Nathan Gomes in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard, Josephine Mason and Arun Koyyur)