UPDATE (1/10/2020): Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne revised the number of Canadian citizens on the flight from 63 to 57.
TORONTO — Air Canada says it is rerouting its flights to Dubai amid uncertainty in the Middle East due to a military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran.
The airline says it hasn’t used Iranian airspace since the middle of last year and will now also avoid Iraq’s airspace — affecting its five-times per week service to Dubai, a major commercial hub in the United Arab Emirates.
The Associated Press reported Air Canada had rerouted a flight Wednesday from Toronto to Dubai through Egypt and Saudi Arabia to avoid travelling over Iraq. The airline does not fly directly to locations in Iran or Iraq.
Transport Canada said earlier that Air Canada would comply with U.S.-led restrictions on commercial airlines operating in the Persian Gulf region.
The government agency says Air Canada is the only Canadian airline with routes affected by the ban on flights by U.S. commercial carriers operating in Iran, Iraq and over the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
WestJet partner Emirates Airline says its scheduled flights between Dubai and the Iraqi capital Baghdad were cancelled Wednesday for operational reasons.
The U.S. is embroiled in a standoff with Iran, which fired missiles at American military bases in Iraq on Tuesday in retaliation for a U.S. strike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last week.
On Wednesday a Ukrainian plane crashed minutes after takeoff at Tehran’s airport, killing 176 people, including 63 people with Canadian passports. Ukrainian authorities initially said it appeared mechanical failure was to blame for the crash, but later walked that back, saying nothing had been ruled out.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2020.
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