The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned all US civil aircraft from flying in Iranian airspace above the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, noting that “numerous” planes were in the area when a US drone was shut down.
The US aviation agency daid the nearest civil aircraft was flying some 45 nautical miles (51 mi) from the US Navy high-altitude drone.
The agency said it was worried by the ongoing tensions and increased military activity in an area with heavy civil aviation traffic.
The ban will mostly affect flights going from North America to Asia eastwards.
Earlier on Thursday, major US carrier United Airlines cancelled all flights from Newark International Airport in New Jersey to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM), India’s primary international airport in Mumbai. The Chicago-based company cited “a through safety and security review of our India service through Iranian airspace.” It was the only US carrier flying nonstop from the US to India.
The ban comes after Iran shot down a high-altitude US Navy drone that was flying over international waters on Thursday morning. The attack has further strained an already tense situation in the region, with Washington not ruling out an air strike against Iran in retaliation to Iranian hostile act.