Airline Disruptions Continue Amid Middle East Conflict

Airline Disruptions Continue Amid Middle East Conflict

Global airlines experienced significant disruptions to their flights on Monday following Iran's missile and drone attacks on Israel, which limited flight options for planes traveling between Europe and Asia.

The attacks, involving over 300 missiles and drones from Iran towards Israel (most of which were intercepted by Israel's U.S.-supported missile defense system), caused widespread chaos in the aviation industry. This resulted in the cancellation or rerouting of flights by at least a dozen airlines over the past two days, including Qantas, Lufthansa, United Airlines, and Air India.

Mark Zee, founder of OPSGROUP, a firm that monitors airspace and airports, described this event as the most significant disruption to air travel since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Zee emphasized that multiple airspaces being closed in quick succession has led to considerable chaos and anticipated that disruptions would persist for several more days.

The current routing challenges present a setback to an industry already grappling with various restrictions due to ongoing conflicts, such as those between Israel and Hamas, and Russia and Ukraine.

For airlines traveling between Europe and Asia, the closure of Iran's airspace restricts them to two primary alternative routes: either through Turkey or via Egypt and Saudi Arabia, according to Zee.

Israel initially closed its airspace on Saturday but reopened it on Sunday morning. Additionally, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon resumed flights over their territories. Major Middle Eastern carriers like Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Etihad Airways announced on Sunday that they would resume operations in the region after canceling or rerouting some flights.

It remains unclear whether these recent events will impact passenger demand, which has remained robust despite ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, according to Brendan Sobie, an independent aviation analyst. Sobie noted that while concerns about traveling may arise if conflicts escalate further, this has not yet been the case.

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