Several international airlines on Friday, June 21, diverted their flights away the Strait of Hormuz after Iran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone.
Early Friday morning, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration banned American-registered planes from flying over the Iranian-administered airspace in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
The U.S.’s decision prompted airline operators worldwide to follow the guidance.
Australian airline Qantas announced it would redirect flights away from the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman that will affect its flights between Australia and London.
Earlier, Dutch carrier KLM said its planes would not fly over the Strait of Hormuz. And British Airways said it would re-route flights away from the Strait of Hormuz.
Likewise, German airline Lufthansa also declared that it is no longer flying planes over the Strait of Hormuz or the Gulf of Oman.
Abu Dhabi-based long-haul carrier Etihad announced that it has “contingency plans” following the U.S. announcement.
Military historian professor Gregory Alegi from Luiss University in Rome, Italy, stated that Iran is showing the United States what it can do. “Clearly by proving that it can shoot, that it can take down something flying at 18,000 meters, about 60,000 feet, Iran is sending a message that it is capable of doing so,” said Alegi.
Alegi explained that it is a “warning shot for the United States to consider that drones, these high-tech items, are not beyond Iran’s military reach.”
Tensions with Iran intensified earlier during the week, following an attack on oil tankers at sea that the United States blamed on Iran. Tehran retaliated announcing that it is defying commitments it has made to curb its nuclear aspirations.
On Thursday, an Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone—the Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk. The unmanned aircraft has a wingspan of 116.2 feet, almost the same size as the Boeing 737 Max, and it costs over US$100 million.
Iran’s downing of the American military drone prompted President Donald J. Trump to order a reciprocal attack. But, the U.S. president said he cancelled the order ten minutes before it was to strike Iran.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson said Germany welcomed President Trump’s decision against a military strike, in reprisal for Iran’s downing of the U.S. reconnaissance drone.