Published:  01:25 AM, 12 January 2020

Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines cancel Tehran flights

Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines cancel Tehran flights Austrian Airlines and its parent Lufthansa have cancelled all flights to Iran. -Reuters

Lufthansa on Friday said it was canceling all flights to and from Tehran until January 20, following suggestions that Iran may have mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane earlier this week. The German group, which also owns Austrian Airlines, said the flight ban was "due to the unclear security situation for the airspace around Tehran airport."

All 176 people on board died when the Ukrainian International Airlines plane went down near Tehran on Wednesday, shortly after Iran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq over the killing of a top Iranian general.

American, British and Canadian officials say intelligence sources indicate Iran shot down the plane, perhaps unintentionally, but this has been denied by Tehran. Several airlines had already announced they would avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace as tensions in the region soared.

A Lufthansa flight between Frankfurt and Tehran on Thursday turned back an hour after takeoff because of security concerns. Austrian Airlines meanwhile said late Thursday that its flight to Tehran that day was ordered to return to Vienna after a stopover in Sofia.

Austrian Airlines said it was canceling its flight to Tehran on Friday, two days after a passenger plane crashed in Iran killing all 176 people on board.

The airline said its action was "due to the latest reports and the changed assessment of the security situation for the airspace around Tehran airport." Thursday's flight to Tehran was ordered to return to Vienna after a stopover in Sofia, the statement added.

The airline's move came after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said intelligence sources indicated Iran had shot down the Ukrainian airliner, possibly accidentally. Iran fired ballistic missiles at bases housing US troops in Iraq early on Wednesday in retaliation for the US assassination of Iran's most powerful general, Qasem Soleimani.

Several airlines had already said they would avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace. Lufthansa the parent company of Austrian said its flight between Frankfurt and Tehran on Thursday had returned an hour after takeoff because of security concerns.


---Reuters, Vienna

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