Some global airlines, including British Airways, Qantas, Air France and KLM, are re-routing flights to avoid Iran-controlled airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.
The move comes after Iran took down a high-altitude U.S. drone with a surface-to-air missile, sparking concerns about the safety threat to commercial airlines.
Opsgroup, which provides guidance to operators, said: ‘The threat of a civil aircraft shootdown in southern Iran is real.’
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has barred its carriers from the area until further notice.
Thursday’s emergency order came after Iran downed an unarmed Global Hawk drone, which can fly at up to 60,000 ft (18,300 m).
It was the latest in a series of incidents in the Gulf region, a critical artery for global oil supplies, that included explosive strikes on six oil tankers.
According to flight tracking applications, the FAA said, the nearest civil aircraft was operating within around 45 nautical miles of the unmanned aircraft when it was shot down.
The FAA is barring American operators from flying over parts of Iranian-controlled air space over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman. Tensions in the region are high after a U.S. drone was claimed to have been shot down in the area by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards
‘There were numerous civil aviation aircraft operating in the area at the time of the intercept,’ it said, adding that its prohibition would stay in place until further notice.
Hours earlier, United Airlines suspended flights between New Jersey’s Newark airport and the Indian financial capital of Mumbai following a safety review.
British Airways, Air France, Malaysia Airlines, Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd, Singapore Airlines Ltd and KLM of the Netherlands said they were re-routing flights to avoid the area.
The FAA said it remained concerned about the escalation of tension and military activity in close proximity to high-volume civil aircraft routes as well as Iran’s willingness to use long-range missiles in international airspace with little or no warning.