“The threat of a civil aircraft shootdown in southern Iran is real,” warned OPSGROUP, a company that advises global airlines.
The Iranian system that targeted the US drone – an unmanned craft with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737 jetliner – was similar to the Russian Buk missile system that took down MH17, OPSGROUP noted.
“Any error in that system could cause it to find another target nearby – another reason not to be anywhere near this part of the Straits of Hormuz,” OPSGROUP said.
Several airlines went further in their precautions than mandated by the FAA. While the US agency prohibited flights through the “Tehran Flight Information Region”, which experts said extended 12 miles off the Iranian coast, a number of carriers said they would give the area a wider berth and avoid the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman entirely.
British Airways, however, stuck to the letter of the FAA prohibition, confirming to the Telegraph that it would avoid Iranian airspace in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman only.
Some services – such as United Airlines’ Newark to Mumbai route – have been halted completely.