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Malaysia Air looks to lighten plane loads on Middle East detour

A Malaysia Airlines passenger jet at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A Malaysia Airlines passenger jet at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. (Bloomberg)

By Danny Lee

(Bloomberg) — Malaysia Airlines will temporarily stop carrying cargo on its passenger flights from Kuala Lumpur to London after Iran’s attack on Israel over the weekend forced airlines to make lengthy detours.

The Malaysian flag carrier will reroute flights to avoid airspace over parts of the Middle East, requiring more fuel and spurring the need to lighten its load. The measure will be in place between April 17 and 30, it said in a statement to Bloomberg News.

The change is one of the more drastic measures taken by an airline as the industry grapples with the fallout, and cost, of Iran’s missile and drone attack that saw several Middle Eastern countries temporarily close their airspace. Qantas Airways Ltd., Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Air France are among major carriers forced to draw up alternative plans that have complicated travel itineraries and led to longer flight times.

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Malaysia’s national carrier typically overflies Iran for its European flights. The new route will see a flight time of around 14 hours with planes heading over Central Asia toward Turkey and sidestepping Iran.

While regional airspace has subsequently reopened and airlines have outlined plans to resume services to places like Beirut and Tel Aviv, tensions between Israel and Iran continue to simmer. Malaysia Air’s cautious approach comes a decade after one of its jets was downed over eastern Ukraine en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. All 298 people on board were killed and the Dutch government holds Russia responsible for the incident.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.