Diversions can add thousands of miles and several hours to journeys, deterring passengers and swelling the fuel bill
Airlines in the Middle East are used to avoiding trouble spots, but airspace closures spurred by mounting tension between Iran and the US mean they now face diversions whether flying north, south, east or west.
Conflicts in the region had left a legacy of no-fly zones long before the latest flare-up between Washington and Tehran. Israeli airlines have been barred from skies above most other Mideast states for decades, while wars in Syria and Yemen mean overflights there are too risky, according to regulators. And rifts between Arab nations have added to the patchwork of no-go areas.
Restrictions imposed by the US Federal Aviation Authority and followed by most carriers worldwide after Iran’s destruction of an American drone, mean airspace above the Strait of Hormuz is also out of bounds. While better known as a shipping route, the corridor also provides the fastest aerial link between the Arabian Gulf to parts of south Asia.
The restrictions are more than just an irritation. Diversions can add thousands of miles and several hours to journeys, deterring passengers and swelling the fuel bill even as carriers including Dubai-based Emirates, Qatar Airways and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways grapple with an economic slowdown in the region.
Here’s a selection of some of the worst-affected routes: