Air India, Vistara to skip Iran routes; Europe flights may take 30 minutes extra

Air India and Vistara are avoiding Iranian airspace for their west-bound flights amid mounting tensions in the region. 

This could result in extra 30 minutes of flight time and increase the fuel burn for the airlines on outbound sectors.

On Friday the Ministry of External Affairs issued a travel advisory urging Indians to avoid travel to Iran and Israel. Air India operated its flight to Tel Aviv on Saturday and is yet to announce any cancellations. No Indian carrier flies to Iran.

Air India and Vistara flights from Mumbai to Europe take the Iranian route. Flights from Delhi opt for routes via Iran or one via Afghanistan and Tajikstan.

On Saturday Vistara’s Mumbai-Europe flights took the northern route via Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Air India’s flights to London from Ahmedabad and Kochi too skipped the Iran routes on Saturday.

“Due to the current situation affecting parts of the Middle East, we are making changes to flight-paths of some of our flights. Contingency routes, which are kept available to ensure operational continuity during such eventualities, are being used instead. This may result in longer flight times on certain routes and associated delays. The situation is being monitored closely and further changes will be made if required,” Vistara said in a statement.

Air India did not respond to an email query.

Airlines select flight routes taking into account enroute wind conditions, temperature, weather, geopolitical factors and navigation charges collected by countries. Flight time depends on these factors.

Route planning is automated and routes chosen by airline to operate a particular flight can vary daily depending upon these factors. The shortest geographical route need not be the most economical route if wind and weather conditions are not favourable., an airline source said.

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