US FAA clarifies Middle East airspace restrictions

By Damian Brett

US cargo airlines have withdrawn their requests for exemptions to Middle East flight restrictions after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) eased restrictions.

Following their request for exemption, the FAA has wrote to Atlas Air, Polar Air Cargo, Southern Air, Omni Air, FedEx and Kalitta to notify them of changes to restrictions.

The FAA said that while it would continue to restrict US airlines from flying in overwater airspace above the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, it would permit operations to Bahrain, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Muscat.

Operators must also be on a published instrument procedure or under direction of air traffic control, minimise overwater operations and are prohibited from entering Tehran.

Following the notice, all the airlines apart from FedEx withdrew their requests for exemption as per FAA instructions.

In its application for exemption, FedEx had provided minimal details on security grounds.

The ban had been put in place after Iran said it had unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian passenger aircraft in the aftermath of airstrikes carried out by the country against US bases in Iraq.

All 176 people on-board the B737 lost their lives in the incident.

The attack had been carried out after a US drone strike on January 3 had killed senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

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