EU airlines adjust after Syria missile strike warning

Paris (France) (AFP) –


International airlines said Wednesday they were modifying their flight plans after a warning from Europe's air safety watchdog about potential military strikes on Syria in the coming days.

The European Aviation Safety Agency alerted airlines on Tuesday of the possible launch of "air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours", urging them to take precautionary measures.

"Air France has taken the EASA information into account and modified its flight plans for affected destinations, mainly Beirut and Tel Aviv," the airline said, adding that it was monitoring the situation.

Lebanon's Middle East Airlines will also be changing flight paths for planes heading to Beirut, an official at the city's airport told AFP.

"The decision includes all arriving and departing flights starting from tomorrow morning (Thursday) following the warning from the European Aviation Safety Agency," the official said.

Flights from the Gulf will be affected more than others, with expected delays of 30 to 40 minutes, because instead of flying over northern Syria they will travel over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and then on to the Gulf.

The EASA cited a risk of "intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment" for commercial flights in the region in case of military action.

Most international airlines no longer fly to Damascus since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war more than seven years ago.

The heightened tensions follow reports of a new chemical attack in the rebel-held city of Douma, not far from Damascus, which has prompted a global outcry against the heavy civilian casualties from the Syrian regime's bombing campaign in the area.

US President Donald Trump said Wednesday that "missiles will be coming" in response to the alleged chemical attack.