Sent into a tizzy by Iran-Israel tensions, airlines scramble to find safe flight paths


New Delhi: The worsening Iran-Israel conflict has created turbulence in air travel. Air India Changed the timing of some of its ultra-long-haul flights and temporarily suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv.
Pilots are reporting speed GPS signal jammed And spoofing in conflict zones is prompting route planners to constantly scour the charts to find safer alternatives. Airlines have begun adding fuel stops to some nonstops between West and South Asia, including India, because of the longer routes they are now forced to take. Avoid Iranian airspace.

Air India's San Francisco-Mumbai AI 180 was diverted to Dubai for refueling on Sunday. Since the flight could not fly the normal polar route to avoid Iran, it had to take a longer route.

“The airspace not only of Israel but also of nearby countries such as Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon is closed when there is a threat of an attack. Jordan is an important overfly area. The attacks mostly occur at night, and the airspace reopens during the day,” said a source.
The situation is dynamic. Airfields are often closed when a flight is en route or departing. ATC Trying to find an alternative in real time.
While Air India's Tel Aviv flight has been suspended, Iranian airline Mahan Air's Delhi-Tehran flights are operating. No Indian carrier has flights to Iran. After the attack on Israel, Air India first suspended the Delhi-Tel Aviv flight on October 7, 2023. Flights resumed on 3 March, but were again suspended.
The Hindukush route, or Papa 500, was launched by Air India for its nonstop flights between Delhi-Mumbai and the West, especially North America, after Afghanistan airspace was closed a few years ago.
This has proven to be a boon for the airline, as has the fact that it still flies over Russia. Older Boeing 777s, which have extra oxygen tanks, are using this route and are not affected by the closure of Iran's airspace. However, the X-Delta and Etihad B777s operated by the airline do not have additional oxygen tanks and hence, cannot fly over the Hindu Kush.
Swiss Air's nonstop flights between Zurich and Delhi will stop for refueling in Vienna.
“Flights to South India will not be affected, but flights to Delhi and Mumbai will be affected,” said a senior official of another European airline.
GPS signals are often jammed in places like Iran and Türkiye. “We inform the ATC about it en route and ask them to monitor the position of the aircraft on radar. We are using the optional DME-DME update which uses the last known location of the aircraft to track its location,” said a senior pilot.
US carriers have long avoided Iranian airspace and their nonstop flights to India have been unaffected by the recent troubles.

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