Paris: A growing number of airlines said on Wednesday they were avoiding Iranian and Iraqi airspace for flights to the region after Tehran fired ballistic missiles against bases housing US troops in Iraq.
"As a precautionary measure and following news of air strikes underway, Air France has decided to suspend until further notice all flights through Iranian and Iraqi airspace," an Air France spokesman told AFP.
In India, PTI reported that hours after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 people crashed near Tehran and Iranian government conducted missile strikes against US military bases in Iraq, Air India said it was temporarily rerouting its flights and that of its subsidiary Air India Express which use Iranian airspace.
"In light of the tensions within the Iranian airspace a decision to temporarily reroute flights of Air India (AI) and Air India Express (AIX) overflying Iran has been taken. This may lead to increase in flying time by approximately 20 minutes for flights from Delhi and 30 to 40 minutes for flights from Mumbai," said the airline's spokesperson.
Aviation regulator DGCA on Wednesday morning asked Indian airlines to remain vigilant and take all precautions in airspace over Iran, Iraq, Gulf of Oman and waters of Persian Gulf, hours after the crash of Ukrainian International airlines flight that killed 176 people near Tehran
Iran launched a series of missiles at bases housing US troops in the early hours, officials in Washington and Tehran said.
Iran's supreme leader called the attacks a "slap in the face" after a US drone strike killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad international airport last week.
Shortly after the missile attacks, the US Federal Aviation Administration said it was banning US-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran and the Gulf.
Its Russian counterpart, the Federal Air Transport Agency, said it was recommending airlines avoid the air space over Iran, Iraq and the Persian and Oman Gulfs "due to information about current risks for safety of international passenger flights".
The region is an important corridor for flights travelling between Europe and Asia, although planes can be rerouted.
A KLM spokesman told AFP: "Until further notice, KLM has no flights over Iranian or Iraqi airspace. All flights to different Southeast Asian destinations and other destinations in the Middle East will be flown through alternative routes." In Germany, Lufthansa said it had cancelled its daily flight to Tehran in addition to halting overflights of Iran and Iraq until further notice.
It added that Saturday's twice-weekly service to northern Iraqi city of Erbil would also not depart.
Poland's national airline LOT had already announced at the weekend that its regular flights in the region were being diverted to keep them out of Iranian airspace.
UAE carriers Emirates Airline and low-cost Flydubai said they had cancelled flights to Baghdad for "operational reasons".
Australia's Qantas said one of its London-Perth flights would be rerouted, with the other already flying an alternative route.
"We're adjusting our flight paths over the Middle East to avoid the airspace over Iraq and Iran until further notice," said a spokesman.
Both Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines said they would divert flights from Iranian airspace.
Vietnam Airlines said it will make "appropriate adjustments" of routes to avoid areas of potential instability although its regular flight paths to Europe do not pass over Iran and Iraq.
Japanese airlines ANA and JAL, and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific said their planes do not fly through airspace affected by latest flare-up.