Austrian Airlines started cancelling its flights to Tehran on January 10, two days after a Ukranian aircraft crashed, killing all 176 people on board. The airline, in a statement, said that it took the action in view of the latest reports that have emerged lately, in an apparent reference to the possibility of a missile hitting the aircraft. It said that the changed assessment of the security situation for airspace around Tehran airport forced them to take the decision.
Lufthansa flight 600 bound for Tehran from Frankfurt turned around and flew back to the German city and also cancelled their flight for January 11. Austrian flight 871 bound for Tehran from Vienna rerouted and landed in Sofia, Bulgaria and the airline also cancelled next day’s flight.
The move comes after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the preliminary review of evidence indicated that the Boeing 737-800, carrying 63 Canadians, was hit by a surface-to-air missile. He added that the evidence suggests very clearly a possible and probable cause for the crash but maintained that this may have been done accidentally.
However, Iran has refuted the claims that the Ukranian plane crash was the result of a ballistic missile hitting the jetliner. According to an Iranian news agency, Ali Abedzadeh, head of country’s Civil Aviation Organization, called such claims as “illogical rumours”. Abedzadeh said that it is scientifically impossible that a missile can hit the Ukrainian plane, and such rumours are illogical.
Iran has asked Canada to the share intelligence inputs referring to which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that an Iranian missile brought down the Ukranian airliner. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has invited Boeing, the plane manufacturer, to take part in the enquiry after reports emerged that the crash was a result of a ballistic missile hitting the aircraft.
The day Ukranian jetliner crashed, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) asked all Indian operators to reroute their flights to ensure the safety of passengers in the wake of Iran’s attack on US military bases in Iraq. A senior DGCA official said that all air operators were directed to take appropriate precautionary measures including the rerouting of their flights in view of the impending tension in the Middle East.