TORONTO - Air Canada's flights to its sole destination to the Persian Gulf region have been rerouted to avoid Iraqi air space due to a military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran, the airline said Wednesday.
“As a result of the current uncertain situation in the Middle East, like many international carriers, Air Canada has taken precautionary measures. It is rerouting its five-times weekly flight to Dubai,” it said in a statement.
It didn't provide details but The Associated Press reported earlier that 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 and hasn't flown over Iranian air space since last summer.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration told U.S. carriers in June to avoid Iranian air space after a U.S. surveillance drone was shot down. It issued a new advisory on Tuesday to add Iraqi air space to its areas to avoid.
Transport Canada says Air Canada is the only Canadian airline with routes affected by the latest ban on flights by U.S. commercial carriers.
Aircanada.ca indicates the airline's next direct flight to Toronto from Dubai left on time Wednesday just before midnight local time and is expected to arrive nearly an hour later than originally scheduled at 5:52 a.m. Thursday.
The airline also has an agreement with Lufthansa, which takes passengers from Dubai to Frankfurt where they can make connections with Air Canada flights to Toronto.
WestJet partner Emirates Airline said Wednesday 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. airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last week.
The Iranian missile attack occurred before 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. 8, 2020.