United Airlines has suspended its daily flight between Mumbai and Newark, citing “current events” in Iran.
Here’s how United describes its decision to its employees:
Given current events in Iran, we have conducted a thorough safety and security review of our India service through Iranian airspace and decided to suspend our service between EWR and BOM (Mumbai) beginning Thursday evening.
- Flight 48 (EWR-BOM) has been canceled.
- Customers flying on board Flight 9239 (BOM-EWR) will be rebooked on alternative flights back to the United States. Customers traveling on these flights will experience extended flight times due to a change in our normal flight path.
We are contacting our customers to provide this update and assist those who may need rebooking options.
We continue to explore all our options and remain in close contact with relevant government authorities in order to provide our customers with the most efficient travel experience under these circumstances.
Notice how open-ended this suspension is. As the only U.S. carrier which currently serves the Indian subcontinent, I have to imagine this decision was not made lightly.
Hours after United voluntarily suspended its service to India, a new FAA mandate would have compelled it anyway:
The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) prohibiting U.S.-registered aircraft from operating over the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. The NOTAM warns pilots that flights are not permitted in the overwater area of the Tehran Flight Information Region until further notice, due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions that might place commercial flights at risk. The NOTAM applies to all U.S. air carriers and commercial operators.
So far, we have not seen other governments (like Canada, Great Britain, or any EU government) match this restriction.
A Frenzied Region
You might recall United’s New Delhi flight has already been suspended for more than two months due to the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan. The Gulf blockade against Qatar Airways (for its support of Iran) has also impacted air travel in the region.
> Read More: United Airlines Extends New Delhi Service Cancellation
> Read More: More Route Suspensions + Statement from Qatar Airways
As we await and see whether tensions will escalate or deescalate following the downing of a U.S. drone by Iran, we certainly see already the impact it is having on commercial aviation.