Commercial airlines on Wednesday rerouted flights crossing the Middle East to avoid possible danger amid escalating tensions between the United States and Iran. The flight restrictions reflected fears that the conflict between the longtime foes could ratchet up following Iranian ballistic missile strikes Tuesday on two Iraqi bases that house US troops, the AP reports. Australian carrier Qantas said it was altering its routes between London and Perth, Australia, to avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace until further notice. The longer route meant 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 rerouted to avoid Iran. The US Federal Aviation Administration 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" of civilian aircraft amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran. 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 US civil aviation operations." (Iranian officials say 176 people were killed when a Ukrainian plane crashed near Tehran on Wednesday.)