Commercial flights by EU airlines have been recommended to avoid Iraqi airspace following the Iranian missile attack on US forces in Iraq.

The European Aviation Safety Agency issued the guidance on Wednesday after the US Federal Aviation Administration banned US carriers from the region.

The agency said: “Some member states and countries have already released information to this effect to their airlines and several airlines have responded to the risk by adjusting their routings.”


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The restrictions, which will result in longer flight times to Asia and Australia, follow Iran launching more than a dozen ballistic missiles at US bases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of military chief Qassem Soleimani.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office updated its travel advice to Iraq last night to say: “Flight schedules are currently subject to cancellation at short notice.

“Available departure options could reduce further and this could affect your ability to depart by air.

“If you are planning to depart Iraq by air, contact your airline or travel company for the latest information before travelling.”

And the FCO warned: “In the event of a sudden deterioration in the security station, there may be limits to the assistance the FCO can provide, depending on the security and transport situation.

“You should not assume that the FCO will be able to provide assistance to leave the country.”

The new US rules may have little impact on American carriers because many already avoid this airspace following FAA guidance last June, which banned flights over an area of Iranian airspace above the Gulf and Gulf of Oman after Tehran shot down a US drone.

But several global airlines are re-routing flights to avoid the airspace, while others have temporarily cancelled services to the region to reduce any threat to their aircraft.

Two British Airways flights from Heathrow to Dubai reportedly diverted to Istanbul on Tuesday.

A BA spokesman said:  “We are in constant contact with our partners around the world to assess the security of our routes, and will always take action where appropriate.

“We would never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so.”

Virgin Atlantic said: “We are closely monitoring developments in Iran and Iraq air space, which has resulted in a change to our flight routing.

“As a result flight times to and from Mumbai may be slightly longer than expected.”

Qantas is adjusting flight paths over the Middle East to avoid the airspace over Iraq and Iran until further notice.

The move will add an extra 40 to 50 minutes to direct London-Perth flights, with the number of passengers on board reduced so more fuel can be carried.

The Australian carrier said: “We would like to advise that we are adjusting our flight paths to and from London to avoid the airspace over Iraq and Iran until further notice.”

Lufthansa cancelled a flight to Tehran on Wednesday as a precautionary measure.

Dubai-based Emirates cancelled a return flight to Baghdad on Wednesday, and a spokeswoman said it was monitoring the developments and would make further operational changes if required.

Air France suspended all flights over Iranian and Iraqi airspace, while Singapore Airlines previously said its flights to Europe had been diverted.

Qatar Airways is continuing to fly its routes because it has limited options due to a long-standing ban from Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini airspace, according to the Financial Times.

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