By Gavin Gibbon
UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority had previously called on national air operators to evaluate flightpath risks
Emirates airline, Etihad Airways and Kuwait Airways are continuing to fly in Iraqi and Iranian airspace, despite several other international carriers rerouting airplanes, according to reports.
It comes following heightened tensions earlier this month when a US drone strike killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. This was followed by missile attacks from Iran at US targets in Iraq and, ultimately, the accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian plane by Iran’s air defences.
As a result, a number of carriers have since chosen to avoid the area altogether and redirect flights away from Iran and Iraq, including Lufthansa, Air France, Singapore Airlines and Qantas.
But according to a report by Reuters, Gulf airlines are still using the airspace. “Iranian airspace is important for all carriers in this region,” Adil al-Ghaith, Emirates’ senior vice president, commercial operations, Gulf, Middle East and Iran, is quoted as saying.
The UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) had previously called on national air operators to evaluate flightpath risks that may affect aviation operations in light of rising tensions in the region.
Arabian Business has reached out to Emirates and Etihad for comment.
The region is an important corridor for flights travelling between Europe and Asia, although planes can be rerouted.
Bahrain’s Gulf Air has redirected European flights away from Iraqi airspace and now flies longer, more fuel consuming routes over Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
“We want to take the safest option even if it costs us a little bit more for a period of time. We can live with that,” Gulf Air deputy chief executive Waleed Abdulhameed al-Alawi is quoted as saying.