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Austrian Airlines Halts Flights to Iran Amid Regional Tensions

Austrian Airlines - Photo by Dominik Berger-Severini via Austrian Airlines

Austrian Airlines has suspended flights to Iran, following Lufthansa’s similar decision, due to rising regional tensions. Typically, the airline schedules six weekly flights between Vienna International Airport (VIE) and Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA).

“For Austrian Airlines, the safety of its passengers and crews has top priority. The situation in the Middle East is being evaluated on an ongoing basis. To this end, Austrian is in close contact with the authorities.”

Austrian Airlines said in a statement

The suspension is effective immediately and will last until April 18. Austrian Airlines operates these flights using its Airbus A320neo fleet, providing more than 2,100 seats each week.

Austrian Airlines continued its flights to Iran despite Lufthansa’s earlier suspension, partly due to Vienna’s geographical closeness to Iran. It was the last Western airline to maintain regular flights to the country.

Historically, Lufthansa and Austrian were the only Western airlines providing direct flights to Tehran, after British Airways and KLM ceased operations before the pandemic due to low profitability.

The Austrian foreign ministry has advised its citizens to leave Iran. This advisory aligns with warnings from other Western consulates. Lufthansa has extended its flight suspension to April 18 and will not use Iranian airspace. This decision follows an incident where Israel’s actions in Syria resulted in Iranian casualties, heightening regional tensions.

Austrian Airlines will reroute flights that typically cross Iranian airspace. This adjustment affects long-haul routes to Asia, including to Bangkok, Shanghai, and Tokyo, a strategy also employed by Qantas and Air India.

“Routes that pass through Iranian air space will also be modified. The safety of our passengers and crews have highest priority.”

Austrian Airlines said in their statement

The decisions by airlines to reroute or suspend flights are informed by past incidents such as the MH17 and UIA Flight 752 tragedies. In 2014, MH17, a Boeing 777, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over an active conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine. Similarly, UIA Flight 752 was shot down shortly after departing from Tehran. These events highlight the risks airlines assess when determining flight paths.

Featured Image by Dominik Berger-Severini | Austrian Airlines

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