“Due to information on existing security risks for international civil aircraft flights, Rosaviatsia recommends until further notice not to use the airspace over the territories of Iran, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman for Russian civilian flights, including transit flights,” RIA news agency quoted the Rosaviatsia statement as saying.
According to experts, airlines can ignore this appeal and continue flights to the respective regions or partially implement the recommendation, refusing to use the airspace of a number of areas. “There is no clear ban yet. But carriers should consider quickly reconsidering their flight plans or stopping ticket sales,” Panteleev says.
Only flag carrier Aeroflot flies directly to Tehran from Russia, and not a single Russian company flies to Iraq. However, there are flight routes over Iran and Iraq, including to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where Aeroflot, Pobeda, Nordwind, Ural Airlines and Azur Air currently operate.
The Russian air transport watchdog’s move was a reaction to the crash of a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 on Thursday, which crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran airport. UIA reported that there were 167 passengers and nine crew members on board. According to the airline, the majority of passengers were citizens of Iran, Canada, Germany, Sweden and Afghanistan, while the crew consisted of Ukrainians. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that all the people on the plane perished. After the incident, UIA suspended flights to Tehran for an indefinite period.