Air France and easyJet have rerouted flights, Reuters reported, and a spokeswoman for Lufthansa said that all airlines in the German group “have been avoiding part of the airspace referred to in the warning, including Syria, for some time now.” British Airways declined to comment.
Federal Aviation Administration rules already prohibited American airlines from flying over Syria, but carriers outside Europe also reacted to the Eurocontrol warning.
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Middle East Airlines, the Lebanese flag carrier, issued a statement on Wednesday announcing the rescheduling of some of its flights until Friday evening.
“Due to the recent security situation between U.S. and Syria, and as a precautionary measure,” the airline said, “Middle East Airlines will be modifying the routing of some of its flights, which will affect their departure times.”
The Eurocontrol spokesman said such alerts were not uncommon. For example, he said, “a few years ago, there was a warning about Russia firing missiles from naval assets in the Caspian Sea.”
The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014 was a grim reminder of the risks to commercial jets flying into conflict zones. The Boeing 777 plane, which had been bound for Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, from Amsterdam, was hit by a surface-to-air missile, and all 298 people onboard were killed.
An international team of prosecutors concluded that a surface-to-air missile system used to shoot down the jetliner came from Russian territory and was returned to Russia afterward. Investigators also faulted the Ukrainian government for having failed to close the airspace over the battle zone to civil aviation.