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Wed 8 Jan 2020 08:02 AM

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Restrictions placed on US civilian flights over Gulf, Iraq, Iran

The agency has enacted a number of restrictions and warnings about airline flights in the region over the past year as tensions have increased with Iran

Restrictions placed on US civilian flights over Gulf, Iraq, Iran

The effect of the restrictions wasn’t immediately clear because the FAA had been prohibiting American carriers from flying over most of those areas.


US aviation regulators issued new restrictions barring civilian flights over Iraq, Iran, the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday night.

The effect of the restrictions wasn’t immediately clear because the FAA had been prohibiting American carriers from flying over most of those areas.

The agency issued an emailed statement after Iran fired volleys of rockets against US-Iraqi airbases as part of its promised retaliation over the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

“The FAA will continue closely monitoring events in the Middle East,” the agency said in the statement. “We continue coordinating with our national security partners and sharing information with US air carriers and foreign civil aviation authorities.”

The FAA action applies only to US-registered carriers, but nations elsewhere around the world frequently follow with similar restrictions.

Political tensions

The latest restrictions were imposed “due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations due to the potential for miscalculation or mis-identification,” the FAA said in one of the three orders it issued.

The agency has enacted a number of restrictions and warnings about airline flights in the region over the past year as tensions have increased with Iran. Last June, for example, the agency barred US civilian operators from flying above areas in the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman after an Iranian missile shot down a US military drone.

The FAA and other nations have been more aggressive about issuing warnings and flight restrictions since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down above Ukraine on July 17, 2014, by a Russian missile.

Divert flights

Separately, Singapore Airlines said it would divert its flights to Europe in the wake of the attacks and fears of a wider conflict in the Middle East.

“In view of the latest developments in the region, all SIA flights in and out of Europe are diverted from the Iranian airspace,” Singapore Air said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. “We are monitoring the situation closely and will make the appropriate adjustments to our routes if necessary.” It didn’t provide further details.

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