Iran attacks: How has air travel been affected?

Credit: PA

Words by ITV News Producer Hannah Ward-Glenton

Israeli airspace was closed over the weekend after the country was targeted by an Iranian drone and missile attack.

Iran launched 170 drones, more than 30 cruise missiles and at least 120 ballistic missiles in an assault which set off air raid sirens across Israel on Saturday night.

At least a dozen airlines decided to cancel or reroute flights over the weekend, making it the biggest single disruption to air travel since the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, according to Mark Zee, founder of OPSGROUP, which monitors airspace and airports.

"Not since then have we had a situation with that many different air spaces closed down in that quick succession, and that creates chaos," Mr Zee told Reuters, adding that disruptions were likely to last for a couple more days.

By Sunday morning, Tehran said the attack was over and Israel reopened its airspace, but the aviation industry has continued to see disruptions at the start of the week as airlines opt to avoid the area following the attacks.

What does it mean if a country closes its airspace?

If a territory closes its airspace it means that aircraft are banned from entering the area.

Airspace can be closed if the country itself is considered to be in danger from overhead, or if it would be dangerous for the aircraft and its passengers to travel through the space.

Countries limited the access Russian aircraft had to European airspace following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, for example, while there were airspace closures all over Europe after the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull volcano, and the resulting ash cloud that made it impossible to fly, in Iceland in 2010.

Which countries closed their airspace?

Israel closed its airspace on Saturday, before later reopening it on Sunday.

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Jordan, which sits between Israel and Iran, briefly closed its airspace in response to the attacks and announced that “some of the flying objects that entered our airspace last night were dealt with and confronted.”

Iraq and Lebanon also briefly shut off their airspace, before resuming flights over their territories on Sunday.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), an independent regulator, said it is continuing to monitor the situation in the Middle East.

"Airlines have contingency procedures in place to avoid areas where airspace is closed or there is a higher threat level.

"We, along with governments and airlines, take safety and security very seriously. We are supporting both the government and airlines in understanding the situation and ensuring they stay well-informed."

What would happen if flights did travel over the area?

Most restrictions on travelling through the airspace over Israel and its neighbours have now been lifted, which means that aircraft are able to travel through the area.

The airlines that have opted to avoid the airspace are doing so as a precaution to ensure that passengers, staff and the planes remain safe.

One Kuwait Airways flight travelled through Iraq's airspace just after it reopened on Saturday, and it became the most-tracked flight on the live aviation monitoring service Flightradar24 as it was the only plane seen to do so.

There were no reports of the plane having any difficulties as it flew through the airspace.

Which airlines are still affected?

A number of airlines have cancelled or rerouted flights travelling over the Middle East, which could cause disruption to travellers, including long delays. People who are expecting to fly in the coming days are advised to check with their individual operators to see if their journeys will be affected.

Virgin Atlantic

Following the events over the weekend Virgin Atlantic has decided to "temporarily avoid" the airspace over Iran, Iraq and Israel, which will cause adjustments to its services between the UK and India.

One Virgin Atlantic flight was in the air while the Israeli airspace closure was announced on Saturday, which prompted the flight to be diverted.

British Airways

British Airways had already suspended certain flights to Israel following Hamas' attacks on Israel on October 7, but it is not understood to have made any major changes to its scheduling after the weekend's attacks by Iran.


Lufthansa has suspended its flights to Tel Aviv, Erbil and Amman up to and including those on Monday. Those flights should be resumed as of Tuesday, but services to Beirut and Tehran will remain cancelled until at least April 18.

The Lufthansa Group had already decided on Friday to fly around Iranian airspace until up to and including Thursday April 18.

The Lufthansa Group includes the airlines Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Discover Airlines, Eurowings and Swiss International Airlines.

Air India

Air India said on Saturday that it would be suspending flights to and from Tel Aviv until Saturday April 20.

United Airlines

United Airlines cancelled at least three flights to or from the Middle East over the weekend, and cancelled a number of flights for Monday and Tuesday.

The airline has moved its crews out of the region, ITV News understands, with plans to return them when it's safe to do so.

ITV News has contacted easyJet, Ryanair and Emirates for further clarification over how their flights may be affected in the coming days.

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