Major airlines, including SIA and British Airways, reroute flights to avoid Afghanistan airspace

FILE PHOTO: A United Airlines passenger jet takes off with New York City as a backdrop, at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, U.S. December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren
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Major airlines are rerouting flights to avoid Afghanistan airspace after the Taliban took control of the presidential palace in Kabul as US-led forces departed and Western nations scrambled on Monday (Aug 16) to evacuate their citizens.

A Singapore Airlines (SIA) spokesperson said that in view of the latest development in Afghanistan, all SIA and Scoot flights are currently not “traversing” Afghan airspace.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and make the appropriate adjustments where necessary,” the spokesperson added.

Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed few commercial flights over Afghanistan at 3am GMT on Monday but many planes overflying neighbouring Pakistan and Iran.

The website, which tracks flights in real time, also showed Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight SQ 319 from London to Singapore avoiding Afghan airspace.

United Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic said they were not using the country’s airspace.

A United spokeswoman said the change affects several of the airline’s US to India flights.

Airlines and governments have paid more attention to the risks of flying over conflict zones in recent years after two deadly incidents involving surface-to-air missiles.

Agencies

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