Amid escalating tensions between the United States and Iran following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the US has banned civil aviation operators from flying over potentially hostile areas for safety purposes. By order of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), US carriers are being prohibited from operating over Iraq, Iran, the Gulf of Oman, and the Persian Gulf.
#FAA Statement: #NOTAMs issued outlining flight restrictions that prohibit U.S. civil aviation operators from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. pic.twitter.com/kJEbpPddp3
— The FAA (@FAANews) January 8, 2020
According to the FAA, the ban was issued “due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations.”
The consequences of shutting down airspace over Iraq and Iran could be serious, however. This airspace is considered highly strategic for commercial aviation, and a no-fly policy will cause lengthy reroutes leading to greater congestion and fuel costs.
After a Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down in 2014 by a missile over Ukraine, however, carriers are increasingly cautious when it comes to operating in risky airspace. While non-US carriers aren’t affected by the ban, other international airlines, such as Singapore Airlines, are similarly rerouting their planes from Iranian airspace, and it’s likely many other carriers will follow suit.