Mumbai

Iran-Iraq tension: Air Traffic Control prepares for rerouting of flights

Air India, Air India Express, KLM, Singapore International Airlines and Virgin Atlantic have already announced changes to their flight paths.

Air India, Air India Express, KLM, Singapore International Airlines and Virgin Atlantic have already announced changes to their flight paths.   | Photo Credit: Aadesh Choudhari

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A sector each to be added to oceanic and upper airspace routes under Mumbai ATC’s jurisdiction

Mumbai’s Air Traffic Management (ATM) system on Wednesday began to gear up for rerouting aircraft following the escalation of tensions in the Iraq-Iran region, which has led to airlines opting for alternate flight paths.

Mumbai’s Air Traffic Control (ATC), which also looks after oceanic and upper airspace flight movements, said as of Wednesday afternoon, it had a request from Emirates for rerouting. In anticipation of an increase in requests, the ATC decided to add one sector each to the oceanic and upper airspace routes, where aircraft overfly India, under Mumbai ATC’s jurisdiction.

“There could be a 60% to 70% increase in air traffic. We are mentally prepared and have rostered duties accordingly. Revised routings are something individual airlines have to take a call on. It will either have to be to the north or south of the affected region,” said a senior Airports Authority of India official, who is co-ordinating with the affected airlines.

The Mumbai ATC handles airline traffic in sectors surrounding Mumbai. These include four sectors each in the upper airspace and oceanic airspace along with two sectors in terminal airspace (for take-offs and landings in Mumbai).

U.S. advisory

Air India and Air India Express announced changes to their flight paths along with airlines like KLM, Singapore International Airlines (SIA) and Virgin Atlantic. While U.S. FAA’s advisory also mentions staying off the Gulf of Oman, Indian carriers said they continued to operate a normal schedule on the Gulf routes.

“All SIA flights to and from Europe have not flown over Iranian airspace and have been taking different flight paths since January 6. The new routes do not significantly change flight times. We are closely monitoring the situation in the region and will take appropriate precautions if necessary,” an airline spokesperson said.

IndiGo said it does not operate any flights over Iranian and Iraqi airspace, and hence does not expect its flights to the Gulf region or Turkey to be impacted. “The routes to Gulf operate through Oman, Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf, while the routes to Turkey fly over the northern routes over the Caspian Sea and head directly from there to Istanbul. Currently, our flights are operating as per schedule,” the Indigo spokesperson said. The airline was monitoring the situation closely and in case of a contingency, there could be slight time changes in flight operations, which would be proactively communicated to passengers through regular channels, the spokesperson said.

‘Longer flights’

Virgin Atlantic, which operates to London, said flight times to and from Mumbai may be slightly longer than expected. “Safety and security is our No. 1 priority and we always follow the strict advice set out by UK and international authorities. We are closely monitoring developments in the Iranian and Iraqi air space, which has resulted in a slight change to our flight routing,” a spokesperson said.

Air India (AI) spokesperson, Dhananjay Kumar, said in the light of tensions in the Iranian airspace, a decision to temporarily reroute flights of AI and Air India Express overflying Iran had been taken. “This may lead to increase in flying time by approximately 20 minutes for flights from Delhi and 30 to 40 minutes for flights from Mumbai. The situation is being closely monitored,” Mr. Kumar said.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 1:58:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/iran-iraq-tension-air-traffic-control-prepares-for-rerouting-of-flights/article30518472.ece

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