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Flights diverted across Middle East as Foreign Office issues travel warnings for the region
8 January 2020, 09:25
Commercial airlines have begun rerouting flights crossing the Middle East amid escalating tensions between the US and Iran following Iranian use of ballistic missiles against Iraqi airbases housing US troops.
Australian carrier Qantas confirmed it will be altering its London to Perth routes to avoid Iran and Iraq airspace until further notice.
The longer route means that Qantas will have to carry fewer passengers and use more fuel to remain in the air for an extra 40 to 50 minutes.
Malaysia Airlines said that "due to recent events" its planes would avoid Iranian airspace.
Singapore Airlines also said that its flights to Europe would be rerouted to avoid Iran.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was barring American pilots and carriers from flying in areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace.
The agency warned of the "potential for miscalculation or mis-identification" for civilian aircraft amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran.
Such restrictions are often precautionary in nature to prevent civilian aircraft from being confused for ones engaged in armed conflict.
The FAA said the restrictions were being issued due to "heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations".
Those strikes were retaliation for the US killing of General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike near Baghdad last week.
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It comes as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) increased travel restrictions for Brits travelling to Middle Eastern Countries.
They have advised against "all but essential" travel to Iran, and for British-Iranian nationals not to travel to Iran under any circumstances.
"If you’re in Iran, you should consider carefully your need to remain. If your continued presence is not essential, you should consider leaving," the FCO website said.
Travel warnings are also in place for Iraq, Yemen and Syria, with Brits advised against all travel to these countries.
The FCO is advising against "all but essential travel" to Kuwait, UAE, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
They have said: "Following the death of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a US strike in Baghdad on 3 January, the incident has led to increased tensions in the region.
"There is a possibility of an increased threat against Western interests and the security situation could worsen with little warning."