FAA bans US airlines from flying over Iraq

Last updated 06:35 09/08/2014

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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday (local time) restricted US airlines and commercial operators from flying over Iraq while armed conflict raged and the United States launched air strikes.

The FAA had previously, on August 1, restricted US airlines from flying at or below 30,000 feet (9,100 meters) over Iraq. The latest order will be reviewed by year-end.

The move reflected "the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict between militants associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and Iraqi security forces and their allies," the agency said in a notice to airmen.

The ban applies to all US-registered planes except those operated by foreign carriers, and to FAA-licensed pilots, but makes an exception for flights operated with US government permission.

US warplanes on Friday bombed Islamic State fighters marching on Iraq's Kurdish capital of Arbil, after President Barack Obama said Washington must act to prevent "genocide."

The order comes after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down on July 17 by a missile over a rebel-held area of eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

Several non-US carriers have already suspended flights over Iraqi airspace for security reasons.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and other airlines cancelled flights to and from the northern Iraqi city of Irbil after US airstrikes on Islamic militants.

Germany's Lufthansa and subsidiary Austrian Airlines said the suspension would continue through Monday, while Turkish Airlines said it has halted Irbil flights until further notice.

Turkish Airlines said it stopped the flights for security reasons after US jets dropped bombs on Islamic militants who were towing artillery outside of the Kurdish regional capital near US personnel. The US airstrikes targeted the extremist Islamic State group, which controls large areas of Syria and Iraq.

Turkish Airlines' flights to other Iraqi cities were not immediately affected, the company said.

Lufthansa said it already was avoiding Iraqi airspace on flights transiting between Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

In a statement, British Airways said it was temporarily suspending flights over Iraq "and will keep the situation under review."

- Reuters, AP

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