Is it still safe to fly to the Middle East or beyond as the Iran-Israel conflict escalates?

Is it safe to fly to Middle East
By Linsey McNeill
15/04/2024
Home » Is it still safe to fly to the Middle East or beyond as the Iran-Israel conflict escalates?

Several airlines have re-routed flights to avoid the conflict zone in the Middle East after Iran launched an air strike on Israel on Saturday.

However, most services are continuing, albeit with longer flight times to some destinations including Australia, India and other countries in Asia.

Some flights to Israel have been suspended, with easyJet and Virgin Atlantic both pausing services to Tel Aviv after the city came under rocket fire from Iran on Saturday evening.

Virgin Atlantic said its flights to Israel will be paused until 4 September 2024, while easyJet gave no indication of when its flights will resume.

EasyJet is advising customers already in Israel to contact its customer service team to ‘discuss their travel options’.

An easyJet spokesperson said: “For both easyJet and easyJet holidays we are continuing to monitor the situation closely within Israel. We continue to operate as normal to other destination in the region.”

When asked if easyJet holidays would relax its T&Cs for booked customers who no longer want to travel to countries in the Middle East, the spokesperson said: “At easyJet holidays we offer ‘ultimate flexibility’ meaning customers can change their holidays with low change fees, right the way up to 28 days before travel.”

Both British Airways and Wizz Air still have flights scheduled to operate to Tel Aviv this week, with the next flights departing on Wednesday.

While the Foreign Office isn’t warning against travel to Israel it updated its travel advice on Sunday to warn that the situation in Israel and other countries in the Middle East is ‘changing fast’ and has urged them to monitor its advice.

ABTA said it ‘remains in contact with the FCDO’, adding: “We recommend that members monitor any changes to its travel advice. An easy way for ABTA members to do this is to sign up to our operational bulletins service.”

Airlines re-routing flights between Europe and Asia to avoid the Middle East conflict zone include Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin said: “We have been closely following events in the Middle East and have made the decision to temporarily avoid the airspace of Iraq, Iran and Israel, meaning some Virgin Atlantic passenger services between the UK and India will be adjusted.

“The safety and security of our customers and people is paramount and always will be. We will continue to monitor the situation and apologise for any inconvenience caused to customers by slightly longer flight times.”

Virgin’s flight from London Heathrow to Mumbai in India was airborne when Iran launched its attack on Israel on Saturday, forcing the temporary closure of its airspace. The flight was forced to divert to Istanbul to refuel, causing a five-hour delay.

The airline said its flights to Mumbai and Bengalaru will take about 30 minutes longer due to the extended route.

Qantas has been forced to temporarily suspend its non-stop Perth to London flight since the extra time it takes to skirt round the affected air space means it’ll need to refuel en-route.

Its QF9 non-stop flight has been replaced with a one-stop service – QF209 – with a refuel in Singapore. The direct London to Perth flight continues since prevailing winds allow it to reach Western Australia without additional fuel.

Travel Gossip has contacted other airlines, including British Airways, for an update.

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