Australians will continue to fly into airspace around Iran that has been blacklisted by US authorities under code-share arrangements with Gulf area airlines.
Qantas is considering re-routing its Perth to London flights via Singapore or Hong Kong but its code-share deal with Dubai-based Emirates remains unchanged, a spokeswoman said.
A spokeswoman for Virgin Australia said the airline’s similar agreement with Etihad also remained in place.
Emirates and Etihad run multiple non-stop services every day from Melbourne and Sydney to the United Arab Emirates, where both are headquartered, using large-capacity planes that each carry hundreds of people.
On Wednesday, the US Federal Aviation Authority banned American carriers from flying into the Gulf, or over Iran and Iraq, following missile attacks by Iran on military bases in Iraq that host US forces.
The attacks were in retaliation for the US assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, who was killed by an American drone strike near Baghdad airport last week on the orders of US president Donald Trump.
In an apparently unrelated incident, a plane bound for Kiev crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran airport on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.
Australia’s regulator, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, does not issue FAA-style safety rulings and instead relies on airlines to make their own judgments.
Qantas currently runs one flight of its own that passes through the area, the QF9 service from Perth to London.
“We’re adjusting our flight paths over the Middle East to avoid the airspace over Iraq and Iran until further notice,” a spokeswoman said. “We’re looking at temporarily routing QF9 through Asia until we’re able to return to our normal flight path through the Middle East.
“This would mean a fuel stop in a city like Singapore or Hong Kong but it would enable us to still carry a full load of passengers on these heavily booked flights, and minimise disruption that way.”
Qantas’s other flight to London, QF1, is unaffected as it already makes a pitstop in Singapore.
An Emirates spokesman said the airline cancelled its Dubai to Baghdad and Baghdad to Dubai flights on Wednesday for “operational reasons”.
“We are carefully monitoring the developments and are in close contact with the relevant government authorities with regards to our flight operations, and will make further operational changes if required,” he said.
“As always, the safety of our passengers, crew and aircraft is our number one priority and will not be compromised.”
Etihad has been contacted for comment.
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