On Thursday, US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) restricted US carriers to fly over the Iranian airspace. This was after an unmanned drone was shot using a surface-to-air missile. It is reported that at that time, the nearest commercial aircraft was a mere 45 nautical miles away from the drone.
Many other airlines have followed suit and announced a voluntary avoidance of the airspace over Iran. It is reported to include Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways and KLM.
In this post, I will evaluate the impact on Emirates.
Emirates Re-routing a Significant Number of its Flights
Let us begin with a geography lesson. Iran is the 2nd largest country in Middle East and is located right on top of UAE. If you were to draw a circle with UAE as its center, Iran would occupy about 1/3rd of it.
In other words, plenty of flights operated by Emirates and Etihad passes through Iran. Therefore, a number of flights are being re-routed through Pakistan and Iraq.
As per FlightRadar, the Dubai to Kabul flight has changed routes over the week.
Similarly, for Dubai to Moscow operations have been altered.
The remarkable aspect about these modifications is that there seems to have been minimal impact on flight timings. As per FlightRadar, Emirates flights to Kabul and Moscow have not been delayed and are following the usual schedule.
I am no geopolitical expert, but it is impossible to say when the situation will normalize. After all, Pakistan airspace is closed to Indian flights from February 2019. If anything, we are on a slippery slope and it might be further downhill from here.