Travellers face disruption after Iran drone attack

Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv
Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv

British travellers faced disruption following a decision by Israel and its neighbours to shut down their airspace in the wake of the major drone attack by Iran.

The impending threat of an Iranian drone strike led Israel’s airspace to be shut to all flights, according to the country’s aviation authorities.

It was originally anticipated that the drones would arrive in Israel at 2am local time.

Flight times are expected to be longer as airlines avoid Iranian airspace and air fares are also expected to increase.

Jordan also took the step on Saturday night to block incoming, departing and transit aircraft from travelling into its airspace, according to Al Mamlaka News, before declaring a state of emergency.

The measure came into force at 11pm and aviation authorities indicated that the situation would be “continuously updated and reviewed according to developments”.

All air traffic has been temporarily stopped in Iraq following a decision to shut down its airspace, according to the country’s transport ministry.

Israel’s El Al Airlines was reported to have cancelled 15 flights scheduled for Saturday and Sunday and Austrian Airlines was also reported to have cancelled all its flights to Iran until April 18.

United Airlines on Saturday said it had cancelled its service to Tel Aviv.

“We have cancelled Saturday’s planned flight from Newark to Tel Aviv and its associated return flight due to restrictions on Israeli airspace,” a United spokesman said.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and will make decisions on upcoming flights with a focus on the safety of our customers and crews.”

A Lufthansa spokesman, on behalf of the firm including its subsidiary Austrian Airlines, said: “We have temporarily stopped overflying Iranian airspace till April 18. Security is our number-one priority.”

Qantas had already paused its non-stop flights from Perth to London in an attempt to avoid Iranian airspace due to fears of the impending attack on Israel.

The route has now been changed and has a stop in Singapore in place due to the situation.

A Qantas spokesman said: “We’re temporarily adjusting the flight paths for our flights between Perth and London due to the situation in parts of the Middle East. We’ll reach out to customers directly if there’s any change to their booking.”

The UK along with the US were among the countries issuing a travel warning to those looking to travel to the region, along with France, Canada and Australia.

Dutch airline KLM also said it would no longer fly over Iran or Israel, according to Dutch press agency ANP on Saturday.

KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France-KLM, said the move was a precaution, but it indicated it would continue flying to Tel Aviv.