I recently flew from Abu Dhabi to Beirut and I was intrigued by the flight route. Instead of simply avoiding Syrian airspace (as would be expected) and flying across KSA, Jordan and Israel, we flew almost to Alexandria in Egypt before hanging a big right and approaching Beirut from over the Mediterranean. Before the Syrian war the flight used to take 3.5 hours, now it's more like 5 hours. Can someone explain to me why the flight took this route? Is it because Sinai is now considered a no-go zone? If so why not fly over Israel? Is this because it's not allowed? I'm curious!
The Great Circle route from AUH to BEY looks like this:
Flying over Syrian territory is out of the question at the moment, so there are three alternatives:
- Fly around via Jordan and Israel. This is impossible because of the Arab League Boycott of Israel. Israeli planes are not allowed to fly in the Arabic peninsula and vice-versa.
- Fly around via Iran and Turkey. This is the longest option
- Fly around via Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This is what your airline ended up doing.
It seems you flew Etihad, because MEA (Middle East Airlines) takes a more direct route:
Compare that to this:
(the above images are from the excellent http://flighaware.com)
Each airline is free to chose their own routing - almost most try to fly on established routes (since these have the most radar coverage); but as shown above each airline is free to decide the best routing for their aircraft.