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Iran’s strike on Israel adds airline troubles in Middle East

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The missile and drone attacks by Iran against Israel significantly reduced the options available to planes flying between Europe and Asia, causing flight delays for international airlines on Monday, according Reuters.

Israel’s missile defense system, supported by the United States, shot down more than 300 missiles and drones, causing chaos in the aviation sector.

Iran fired hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel on Saturday night in reaction to a suspected Israeli strike on Iran’s Syria consulate on April 1.

Over the past two days, at least a dozen airlines including Qantas, United Airlines, Air India and Germany’s Lufthansa have had to cancel or reschedule flights.

Founder of OPSGROUP, which monitors airspace and airports, Mark Zee, says that this was the largest single disruption to air traffic since the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Zee told Reuters that the disruptions were likely going to continue for a few more days. “Not since then have we had a situation with that many different air spaces closed down in that quick succession, and that creates chaos,” Zee stated.

The current routing issues are a blow to an industry already burdened by limitations resulting from conflicts between Israel and Hamas, as well as Russia and Ukraine.

Zee stated that airlines flying between Europe and Asia use Iran’s airspace, and those companies will be limited to two viable alternative routes: Turkey or Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Israel closed its airspace on Saturday and reopened it on Sunday morning. Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon have also resumed flights over their territory.

President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that France will do all possible to prevent further escalation in the Middle East conflict between Israel and Iran, and urged Israel to show restraint in any response, Reuters reports.

Leaders of the G7 nations condemned Iran’s attack on Israel and said on Sunday they would work to try to prevent an “uncontrollable regional escalation” in the Middle East.

US President Joe Biden has warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the US will not take part in a counter-offensive against Iran if Israel decides to retaliate.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cautioned members on Sunday not to increase tensions by with reprisals against Iran, while the United States warned the Security Council that it will try to hold Tehran accountable at the United Nations.

Guterres warned member states at a UN Security Council meeting that the UN charter prohibits the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state and also condemned Iran’s attack on Israel.

Major Middle Eastern airlines, including Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad Airways, said on Sunday that they will resume operations in the area after canceling or rerouting some flights.