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Air India flight AI101 using a 777-300ER on multiple westbound and eastbound routes was diverted to SHJ airport in Sharjah, UAE. I am curious if there is a specific reason. It cannot be a coincidence 5 times to the same airport.

Link to flight history: https://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/ai101

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    $\begingroup$ Could be the airline has reassigned the flight number to the SHJ route or introduced a stopover, while Flightradar24 still thinks it should go direct to New York when in fact it is planned to SHJ. Have you checked another website (preferably the airline‘s one) for where the flight is scheduled to? $\endgroup$ – Cpt Reynolds Mar 7 '19 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ @CptReynolds I can't find any indication of the flight having a stopover. All sites list it as a DEL-JFK non-stop $\endgroup$ – Federico Mar 7 '19 at 13:29
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Is it possible that they don't have the range to get to JFK without stopping for fuel due to the Pakistan Airspace Closures/Restrictions. Looking at the dates, it seems that the flights started diverting when the India/Pakistan tensions flared up a week ago (~Feb 28).

https://www.flightradar24.com/blog/tensions-between-india-and-pakistan-affect-air-traffic/

Going to Sharjah for the diversion avoids the Pakistani airspace as seen below:

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https://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/ai101#1fb4a663

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    $\begingroup$ You may have hit the jackpot. According to Great Circle Mapper DEL-JFK is 7,318 mi direct. The 777-300ER has a MTOW range of 7,370 nmi. Factoring in the closure of Pakistani airspace + the fact the flight more than likely does not fly the great circle route, it is a very good probability that the the aircraft simply does not have enough fuel. $\endgroup$ – DeepSpace Mar 7 '19 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ Wow that seems to cut it close regardless of the airspace closure! $\endgroup$ – zymhan Mar 7 '19 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed pretty close, but I bet these flights do not take-off with full payload (ie, passengers) so they can probably squeeze few more miles. $\endgroup$ – DeepSpace Mar 7 '19 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ @zymhan Whether or not it "seems to cut it close" depends on whether the quoted max range includes burning required reserve fuel or not. My guess is that it's max no-wind range and landing with the required reserve. If that's the case, it would be normal to flight plan right up to that limit. Of course, the limit wouldn't really be in distance but rather time in the air since wind will always be a factor. $\endgroup$ – Terry Mar 7 '19 at 20:33

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