Major international airlines are scrambling to reroute flights away from Afghan airspace as the country falls to the Taliban, disrupting passenger services to India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
On Monday, United Airlines (), Virgin Atlantic, Emirates and Flydubai all announced changes to flights to or over Afghanistan, saying that they would monitor the situation as chaotic scenes unfolded at the main airport in Kabul, the nation’s capital.
“Due to the dynamic nature of the situation, we have begun routing affected flights around Afghanistan airspace,” a United Airlines spokesperson said in a statement early Monday morning local time, adding that it would continue to work closely with authorities to “determine how we continue service to markets impacted.”
Virgin Atlantic also said that it would reroute its upcoming services to India and Pakistan after “the latest situation reports in Afghanistan.” Starting Monday, the carrier’s flights to the cities of Islamabad, Lahore, Mumbai and New Delhi, which usually fly over Afghanistan, will be diverted to avoid the country’s airspace.
Lufthansa (), the German airline, also said that it was “rerouting flights to avoid Afghan airspace until further notice.”
The plane was due to leave from New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and pick up passengers in Kabul before returning to India, an airline spokesperson told CNN Business.
US airlines were already operating under new restrictions imposed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in July, which prohibited them from operating at certain altitudes in Afghanistan, “with the exception of operations into and out of Hamid Karzai International Airport.”
— CNN’s Manveena Suri, Angus Watson and Jonny Hallam contributed to this report.