Airlines avoid Middle Eastern airspace, Lufthansa cancel flights | News | DW | 08.01.2020
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Airlines avoid Middle Eastern airspace, Lufthansa cancel flights

Following the Iranian missile strikes targeting US forces in Iraq, as well as the unexplained crash of a Ukrainian passenger jet near Tehran, several major airlines have rerouted or canceled flights in the region.

Numerous global airlines on Wednesday rerouted or canceled flights to avoid airspace over Iraq and Iran in light of the Iranian missile strikes on Iraqi military bases hosting US forces.

The flight plan alterations also followed the as-yet-unexplained crash of a Ukrainian passenger jet shortly after take-off from Tehran on Wednesday morning, killing all 167 passengers and nine crew members, just hours after the ballistic missile attack. Iranian officials said they suspected a mechanical defect was responsible for the crash.

Ukrainian officials initially agreed, but later backtracked, declining to offer a cause while the investigation continues.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he expected Canada to play a role as part of the inquiry into the crash, particularly as 63 Canadian nationals perished.

"Our government will continue to work closely with its international partners to ensure that this crash is thoroughly investigated, and that Canadians' questions are answered," Trudeau said in a statement.

Watch video 02:19

Over 170 killed in crash of Ukrainian plane near Tehran

European airlines react

Given the uncertainty, German airline Lufthansa and two of its subsidiaries canceled flights to Iraq, while Air France and Dutch carrier KLM both said they had suspended all flights over Iranian and Iraqi airspace until further notice.

As many as 15,000 passengers a day could be affected as a number of flight journeys will be lengthened by up to 90 minutes.

Industry experts also believe that airlines' finances will be severely affected by the ongoing conflict and tension in the region.

Read more: Why the US and Iran are not at war

Emirates and Qatar take different paths

Meanwhile, Emirates airline flights between Dubai and Baghdad were canceled. The state-owned airline said in a statement: "The safety of our passengers, crew and aircraft is our number one priority and will not be compromised."

Nevertheless, Qatar Airways said, at least for now, its flights to Iraq would continue as normal.

Watch video 02:03

Trump: Iran 'standing down' in showdown with US

jsi/se (AP, Reuters)

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