United Airlines, other carriers divert flights from Iranian airspace amid US tensions

United Airlines and several other carriers are canceling flights or diverting routes from Iranian airspace on Friday amid increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

United canceled flight service from Newark, New Jersey to Mumbai, India in an announcement late Thursday, citing “current events in Iran.” The flights pass relatively close to the Strait of Hormuz, near where Iran shot down a U.S. military drone earlier this week.

United said customers already en route to India from Newark will be rebooked on alternative flights home. British Airways, Qantas, Lufthansa and Netherlands-based KLM also said they would divert flights from the region.

“United has conducted a thorough safety and security review of our India service through Iranian airspace and decided to suspend our service between New York/Newark and India (Mumbai) beginning this evening,” the airline said in a statement late Thursday.

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration banned domestic flight operators from flying through Iranian airspace late Thursday, warning of a “potential for miscalculation or misidentification” that could put commercial aircrafts in danger. Iranian military forces shot down an unmanned U.S. drone this week with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737.

“All flight operations in the overwater area of the Tehran flight information region (FIR) (OIIX) above the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman are prohibited until further notice due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region, which present an inadvertent risk to U.S. Civil Aviation Operations,” the FAA said in a notice.

Iran said the drone was shot down after multiple warnings that it had violated the country’s airspace. President Trump approved military strikes against retaliation on Thursday night, only to abruptly withdraw his decision, the New York Times reported.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been on the rise since the Trump administration withdrew from a 2015 nuclear accord between the two nations. U.S. military officials accused Iran earlier this month of attacking an oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, a major international oil gateway.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.