British Airways flight lands in Athens to avoid Iraqi Airspace

British Airways plane

British Airways plane

A British Airways flight from Mumbai to Heathrow has diverted to Athens International Airport, after a sudden decision to avoid Iraqi airspace.

Flight BA 134 departed from India’s biggest city in the early hours of Wednesday and the Boeing 777 flew the usual track from Mumbai to the UK: across the Arabian Sea, passing over the UAE close to Dubai and flying the length of the Gulf. However, the flight flew in a circle midway through the journey and then had to land in Athens to refuel.

The aircraft had just entered Kuwaiti airspace and was set to fly over northeast Iraq, close to the Iranian frontier, which is a common route for commercial flights between the Gulf and Europe.

The plane crossed Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt but instead of continuing to London, it touched down at Athens just after 8am, local time.

While the initial plan had been to refuel and fly on to London, the diversion added too much time to the journey that the crew came up against flight-time limitations.

The BA flight being diverted left a number of passengers with Indian passports stuck in the terminal in Greece as they did not have the right visa to leave the airport.

This comes after Iran fired missiles at military bases in Iraq hosting British and US troops overnight. A number of commercial airlines have rerouted flights to avoid possible danger amid escalating tensions.

The aircraft is still on the ground in Athens. Passengers and crew have been taken to hotels, and the plane is now expected to land at Heathrow at 11.35 am on Thursday, over 28 hours behind schedule.

The US Federal Aviation Administration has barred American pilots and carriers from flying in areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace while the Russian aviation agency has recommended all Russian airlines avoid flying over Iran, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.



*Main Source: The Independent