KLM halts flights over Strait of Hormuz after drone downing

KLM said it was halting flights over the Strait of Hormuz as a "precautionary measure" (AFP Photo/PASCAL PAVANI)

The Hague (AFP) - Dutch airline KLM said Friday it has suspended its flights over the Strait of Hormuz after Iran shot down a US drone in the strategic region.

"Safety is the top priority for KLM," it said in a statement.

"We closely follow all developments that may be related to the safety of airspace 24/7 and we organise the operation in such a way that the safety of the flights is guaranteed.

"The incident with the drone is reason not to fly over the Strait of Hormuz for the time being. This is a precautionary measure."

The downing of the drone -- which Washington insists was above international waters but Iran says was within its airspace -- has seen tensions between the two countries spike further after a series of attacks on tankers the US has blamed on Tehran.

KLM's decision comes after the US Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday barred American civilian flights from the area "until further notice".

The Netherlands is still reeling from the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014, which was hit a missile over eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region where pro-Russian separatist rebels are battling Ukraine forces.

All 298 people on board were killed, 196 of them Dutch.

International investigators on Wednesday charged three Russians and a Ukrainian with murder over the shooting down of the plane, which was travelling between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur.