Source: MATEUSZ MASZCZYNSKI via paddleyourownkanoo.com
Lufthansa has said it will suspend all flights to the Iranian capital Tehran until 28 March at the earliest. In a statement posted to its official Twitter account, the airline group blamed the “continuing unclear security situation” in the country for the flight suspension.
Flights that would ordinarily route through Iranian airspace such as Lufthansa’s services to Dubai, Kuwait and Delhi will also continue doglegging around the country until the same date. The suspension applies to both Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines, as well as all other Lufthansa Group airlines.
Yesterday, the European Air Safety Authority (EASA) issued a so-called ‘Conflict Zone Information Bulletin’ that recommended airlines avoid flying over Iranian airspace at or below 25,000 feet.
“Due to the hazardous security situation, and poor coordination between civil aviation and military operations, there is a risk of misidentification of civil aircraft,” the bulletin cautions.
”Due to the presence of advanced air-defence systems, it is advised to be cautious with the risk associated to civil aviation. The risk to operations is assessed to be HIGH for Flight Levels below 250.”
The bulletin is valid until 16th July but it is only a recommendation and European airlines do not have to heed the warning.
A further warning from EASA says all overflights of Iranian airspace should be completely avoided as a “precautionary measure” until further notice. Again, this warning is only a recommendation and cannot be enforced although most European airlines have complied with the notice.
Airlines have been avoiding Iranian airspace following the downing of Ukraine Airlines flight PS752 resulting in the deaths of all 176 passengers and crew onboard. The Boeing 737 aircraft was shot down by two Iranian military missiles fired from a surface-to-air missile system close to Tehran airport on 8th January.
The Iranian government has admitted to accidentally shooting down the commercial airliner during a night of heightened tensions in the region.
“Together with national and international authorities, Lufthansa Group Security continues to evaluate the security situation for arrivals and departures for Tehran airport and the entire Iranian airspace,” the airline said in a more detailed statement.
“As soon as we have detailed information, we will decide whether and when our Iranian flights can be operated again. We regret the inconvenience for our passengers.”
Lufthansa did, however, restart flights to the Iraqi city of Erbil on 14th January. Austrian Airlines restarted its services to Erbil on 10th January.