Air India (Photo: SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images).

HOURS after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 people crashed near Tehran and Iranian government conducted missile strikes against US military bases in Iraq, India’s Air India said it is temporarily rerouting its flights and that of its subsidiary Air India Express which use Iranian airspace.

The airline’s spokesperson said: “In light of the tensions within the Iranian airspace a decision to temporarily reroute flights of Air India (AI) and Air India Express (AIX) overflying Iran has been taken. This may lead to increase in flying time by approximately 20 minutes for flights from Delhi and 30 to 40 minutes for flights from Mumbai”.

Meanwhile, India’s aviation regulator DGCA on Wednesday (8) morning asked Indian airlines to remain vigilant and take all precautions in airspace over Iran, Iraq, Gulf of Oman and waters of Persian Gulf, hours after the crash of Ukrainian International airlines flight that killed 176 people near Tehran.

A meeting was called and the airlines were “sensitised”, a senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.

US Federal Aviation Adminstration has also asked all American airlines to stop operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman due to “events in Middle East”.

Qassem Biniaz, spokesperson for Iran’s Road and Transportation Authority, said one of the engines of Boeing 737 aircraft, which had 167 passengers and nine crew members, of the Ukranian International airlines was struck by fire immediately after the take off, causing the plane to crash.

The situation in the Middle East region is tense following Iran’s missile strikes against two US military bases in Iraq on Wednesday.

The missile strikes were in retaliation to killing of top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani by the US on January 3.