More countries, including the United Kingdom, have followed in the footsteps of the United States by placing restrictions on flights to, from and around Iran and Iraq. The news comes after western intelligence sources said it was highly likely an Iranian surface to air missile brought down Ukraine International Airlines flight 752.
On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration banned United States carriers from flying in the airspace above Iraq and Iran. Now the United Kingdom’s Government has issued a similar warning. It comes as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against “all air travel to, from and within [Iran]”.
The Department for Transport is the sector of the UK government responsible for everything from road to rail and air travel. The DfT issued two NOTAMs today, advising British operators against operating flights in Iranian and Iraqi airspace.
Valid until the 9th of April, the NOTAMs have been issued “in response to the hazardous situation in Iraq/Iran. Potential risk from heightened military activity and dedicated anti-aviation weaponry in Iraq/Iran.”
Confirming the NOTAMS, A Department for Transport spokesperson told Simple Flying:
“Our top priority is the safety and security of British nationals. We have issued a UK Notice to Airmen as a precautionary measure, advising UK carriers not to enter airspace over Iraq and Iran.”
They added: “We remain in close contact with UK carriers on all aspects of aviation security. We keep our advice under constant review.”
British Airlines such as British Airways have already been avoiding the airspace since a Ukrainian Boeing 737 came down on Wednesday. The airline had been rerouting flights around the area, with one such flight making a noticeable detour.
British Airways told Simple Flying,
“Safety is always our highest priority and we are abiding by the aviation safety authorities’ rules. We would never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so.”
What about other countries?
It’s not just the UK and the US which are concerned about the airspace above the two nations. In fact, in response to what other countries have been saying, SafeAirspace.net has advised against flying above both countries.
Yesterday both Ukraine and France banned their operators from flying in the airspace above both Iraq and Iran. However, Germany has taken a slightly less severe stance. On Tuesday, the nation advised carriers to risk assess flights below FL260 on certain routes in Iraq. Now, the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt has advised that German carriers “Exercise caution in the Tehran FIR”.
While not commenting on Iranian and Iraqi airspace, Sweden has taken a stand on Iranian flights heading to its country. According to Reuters, the Scandinavian nation has temporarily banned Iran Air flights to Stockholm. The Swedish transport agency attributed this to “uncertainty around the accident and the security of civil aviation”.
Meanwhile, for the time being, Middle Eastern carriers such as Emirates and Qatar Airways continue to use the corridor of airspace that had been popular for connecting Europe to the Middle East.
Would you worry about flying in the airspace above Iraq and Iran? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!