While weather is impacting operations at Newark’s Liberty International Airport in northern New Jersey, an entirely different and new threat is causing one flight to be cancelled from the New York City-area airport. United Airlines just announced that their Newark-Mumbai service is cancelled starting with today’s flight.
“Given current events in Iran, we have conducted a thorough safety and security review of our India service through Iranian airspace and decided to suspend our service between EWR and BOM beginning Thursday evening,” said United in a statement. “We are contacting our customers to provide this update and assist those who may need rebooking options. We continue to explore all of our options and remain in close contact with relevant government authorities in order to provide our customers with the most efficient travel experience under these circumstances.”
Commercial flights haven’t always been safe from war zones. On July 17, 2014, a Boeing 777 operated by Malaysia Air as Flight 17 between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on-board. Just yesterday, the Dutch Prosecution Service charged 4 people with murder in connection to this incident. Three of them are Russians and the fourth is Ukrainian. A trial is scheduled for March 2020 in the District Court of The Hague. At the time of the Malaysia Air disaster, governments warned commercial airlines to avoid flying near war zones due to the threat of missile attacks.
With increased tensions between the United States and Iran in recent days and weeks, it is possible the airspace near and over Iran will become in conflict. Yesterday, Iran said they shot-down a U.S. drone in what they said was their airspace. The White House said today in a statement, ““Iran directly attacked a United States asset over international waters. This provocation comes a week after they directly attacked and destroyed two commercial tankers in international waters. There must be a measured response to these actions. President Trump and his national security team remain clear-eyed on the situation and what must be done in response to increased Iranian aggression. In Congress we stand ready to support our men and women in uniform, our country, and our allies in the region.”
At this time, only United Airlines’ Flights 48 and 49 which provide service to/from Newark and Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport are impacted.