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Last Updated : Jun 24, 2019 04:28 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Iran airspace restriction to add flying time by up to an hour

While there may be a hike in fares, the impact will be marginal, thanks to stiff competition

Prince Mathews Thomas @prince0879

The restriction over Iran airspace will add to the flying time of flights from India to the US and Europe, and will make tickets a tad more expensive.

Air India, which is the only Indian airline now with substantial international service after Jet Airways suspended operations, will be the most impacted. One of IndiGo's flights, to Istanbul, will also see a change.

On June 22, industry regulator DGCA had asked Indian airlines to avoid the Iranian airspace.

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"All Indian operators in consultation with DGCA have decided to avoid the affected part of Iranian Airspace to ensure safe travel for the passengers. They will re-route flights suitably," said the regulator.

The advisory followed rising tensions between Iran and the US after the latter's drone was shot down for allegedly violating Iranian airspace.

Noting that the DGCA's announcement has been made keeping in mind passenger safety, Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C),  Yatra.com, said this will have a "slight impact" on schedules and prices.

"Carriers like Air India and IndiGo returning back from places like Saudi Arabia, Europe and the US, will have to take a slightly longer route. However, this impact is limited and alternate routes are being decided," he added.

Another senior executive talking to Moneycontrol added: "Depending on the destination, the flying time could increase by up to 60 minutes. The impact will be a little more crucial for flights to the US."

CNBC reported that United Airlines has suspended flights from New Jersey’s Newark airport to Mumbai following a safety review. The US Federal Aviation Administration has prohibited American airlines from flying over-water area of the Iranian airspace.

Many of the airlines, including from India, may avoid the airspace over land too.

Marginal impact on fares

Industry observers don't see the change leading to a significant increase in fares.

"Indian consumers are very cost conscious. Also, the Middle East carriers have extensive operations and the competition will stop Indian carriers from substantially increase ticket rates," said the executive quoted above.

At the same time, flights to the US may be more vulnerable.

Flights to the US may either be forced to take stops to refuel or will have to reduce payload. "If there is a payload restriction, it may not be profitable to operate the route without increasing the fares," said the executive.

But he added that insurance cover of airlines will increase if they decide to fly in the airspace over Iranian land.

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First Published on Jun 24, 2019 02:29 pm
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