Commercial airlines have been banned from flying over Iraq and Iran, following Iranian ballistic missile strikes on US bases.
Airlines have been forced to reroute their flights after Iran launched the missiles at two Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops, in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard general Qasem Soleimani.
There are fears that conflict between Iran and the US could ratchet up, placing passenger jets at risk.
Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport last week.
Australian carrier Qantas said it was altering its London to Perth, Australia, routes to avoid Iran and Iraq airspace until further notice.
The longer route means that Qantas would have to carry fewer passengers and more fuel to remain in the air for an extra 40 to 50 minutes.
Malaysia Airlines said that ‘due to recent events’, its planes would avoid Iranian airspace.
Singapore Airlines also said that its flights to Europe would be re-routed to avoid Iran.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was barring American pilots and carriers from flying in areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace.
The agency warned of the ‘potential for miscalculation or mis-identification’ for civilian aircraft amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
Such restrictions are often precautionary in nature to prevent civilian aircraft from being confused for ones engaged in armed conflict.
The FAA said the restrictions were being issued due to ‘heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to U.S. civil aviation operations.
Following the FAA, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation advised Indian commercial carriers to avoid Iranian, Iraqi and Persian Gulf airspace.
The Russian aviation agency, Rosaviatsia, has also issued an official recommendation for all Russian airlines to avoid flying over Iran, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman ‘due to existing risks for the safety of international civil flights.’
German airline Lufthansa said it had cancelled its flight from Frankfurt to Tehran on Wednesday in light of the current situation, while United Arab Emirates-owned budget airline flydubai said it had cancelled a scheduled flight from Dubai to Baghdad today, but was continuing flights to Basra and Najaf.
Emirates airline flights between Dubai and Baghdad were also cancelled.
Qatar Airways, however, said its flights to Iraq were operating normally.
The airline said in a statement: ‘The safety of our passengers and employees is of the highest importance, and we continue to closely monitor developments in Iraq.’
It comes after a Ukrainian passenger plane crashed in Tehran hours after the missile strikes, killing 176 people.
The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in the Iranian capital when a fire struck one of its engines, said Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran’s Road and Transportation Ministry.
The Ukrainian embassy in Tehran had initially issued a statement ruling out terrorism or a rocket attack as a cause of the crash.
However, the statement was later removed from the embassy’s website and replaced by a statement saying it was too early to draw any conclusions about what had happened.
Three Britons are confirmed to be among the dead, according to officials in Kyiv.