United Airlines said it had suspended flights from Newark to Mumbai after a safety review in light of events in Iran, which this week shot down a high-altitude U.S. surveillance drone.
‘Given current events in Iran, we have conducted a thorough safety and security review of our India service through Iranian airspace and decided to suspend our service between EWR and BOM,’ United said on its website, referring to the airports.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday issued an emergency order prohibiting U.S. operators from flying in an overwater area of Tehran-controlled airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman due to heightened tensions.
Air France, Qantas and KLM later announced they would implement changed routes through the region.
United Airlines said it had suspended flights from Newark to Mumbai after a safety review in light of events in Iran, which this week shot down a high-altitude U.S. surveillance drone. The above stock image shows a United Airlines jet
In a separate advisory to operators, FAA said according to flight tracking applications, the nearest civil aircraft was operating within around 45 nautical miles of a U.S. Global Hawk drone when it was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile this week.
‘There were numerous civil aviation aircraft operating in the area at the time of the intercept,’ FAA said.
The agency said it remained concerned about the escalation of tension and military activity within close proximity to high volume civil aircraft routes as well as Iran’s willingness to use long-range missiles in international airspace with little or no warning.
President Trump approved military strikes on Friday against Iran in retaliation for the downing of an unmanned $130-million surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching the attacks, the New York Times said.
Trump had initially approved strikes on a handful of targets such as radar and missile batteries, the paper cited senior administration officials involved in, or briefed on, the deliberations, as saying.
The strikes were set to take place just before dawn on Friday to minimize risk to the Iranian military or to civilians, it added.
Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles fired, when the order to stand down came, it cited one senior administration official as saying.
The abrupt reversal put a halt to what would have been Trump’s third military action against targets in the Middle East, the paper added, saying Trump had struck twice at targets in Syria, in 2017 and 2018.
The FAA is barring American operators from flying over parts of Iranian-controlled air space over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman. Tensions in the region are high after a U.S. drone was claimed to have been shot down in the area by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards
However, it is not clear whether attacks on Iran might still go forward, the paper said, adding that it was not known if the cancellation of strikes had resulted from Trump changing his mind or administration concerns regarding logistics or strategy.