PS752: Flights diverted cancelled and re-directed
A four-year-old Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 crashed on January 8, 2020, shortly after takeoff from Tehran, resulting in the deaths of 176 passengers and crew. Leaders of the five eyes intelligence alliance (Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the USA) are reporting that the plane was shot down by a Russian missile, by the Iranian military, by mistake.
American airlines were already under some restrictions due to existing tensions with Iran and especially after the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani. With the cause of the crash of flight PS752 near Tehran now generally accepted, airlines are adding to the restrictions.
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- Lufthansa – their LH600 flight from Frankfurt to Tehran, returned to Frankfurt about two hours into the flight. The flight has also been cancelled for 10 January.
- Austrian – their OS871 flight from Vienna to Tehran has been diverted to Sofia in Bulgaria. The flight is cancelled for 10 January.
- Ukraine – suspended all Kyiv flights to Tehran immediately after the PS752 crash
- China Southern – cancelled their 9 January flight from Urumqi to Tehran
Qantas, Virgin and Partners (Etihad, Emirates and Qatar)
Neither Qantas nor Virgin have any direct flights to Iran. They rely on partner and alliance airlines including Emirates, China Southern and Qatar for Qantas and Etihad for Virgin Australia.
Many airlines are still flying in and out of Tehran including Emirates from Dubai, and Qatar from Doha. Etihad has no flights to Tehran, and doesn’t appear to have any partner arrangements that cover the destination. China Southern has scheduled flights from Urumqi, which look like they are going ahead – but may yet be cancelled.
So, if you want to fly to Tehran, ( wouldn’t be my choice at the moment ) then nothing much has changed currently. Emirates, Qatar and China Southern are all still flying to Tehran, as are Turkish (in partnership with Malaysian and Garuda) or with Oman Air partnered with Etihad. China Southern still has scheduled flights too.
Smart Traveller advice for Australians travelling to Iran
The Smart Traveller website has not changed its warning level. It remains at ‘Reconsider your need to travel’, although higher level warnings apply to some areas, especially near the borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I hope that Iran changes its attitude to the investigation and sharing the information on the black boxes. As well as the general need to find out why aircraft accidents occur, we have learnt that friends and family of victims gain some comfort in knowing the cause to progress on their pathway of grief.
For those proposing travel to Iran – the danger level has not changed according to the Australian Government Smart Traveller website. But please take their advice on being vigilant to changing risks.
If you are on a flight that traverses the airspace of Iran, then we know less. Qantas has acknowledged that it may need to change some flight paths – most particularly on its Perth to London ‘direct’ flight – which might end up with a stopover in Singapore or Hong Kong during these troubles.
If you are travelling on a reputable first world airline, then I would not be too concerned – but if you are a nervous flyer, then contact the airline you are booked on to check their route.