FAA Warns Airlines Not to Fly Over the Persian Gulf, State Dept. Issues Middle East Travel Advisories

May 18, 2019

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is advising US carriers and commercial operators not to fly over the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. The warning, which was relayed by US diplomatic posts, is due to concerns that the US troops operating in and around the Persian Gulf could misidentify passenger aircraft for hostile military aircraft. The FAA’s advisory on airliners operating over the Persian Gulf comes amidst rising tensions between the United States and Iran.

The Persian Gulf serves as a massive channel for international flights from all regions of the globe bound for destinations in the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. Hundreds of flights operate daily over the Persian Gulf.

Flights operating over the Persian Gulf (Image via Flightradar24)
Flights operating over the Persian Gulf (Image via Flightradar24)

According to the flight tracking application Flightradar24, passenger airliners operated by Emirates, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airways continue to fly over the Persian Gulf. Earlier today, Kuwait Airways flight 203 from Kuwait City (KWI) to Lahore, Pakistan (LHE), flew from one side of the Gulf to the other at times cruising at just 20,000 feet.

(Image via Flightradar24)
(Image via Flightradar24)

The FAA does not have the authority to ground foreign aircraft or prevent foreign airlines from operating in the region. However, should tensions between the US and Iran become heightened, flights may be forced to reroute.

Operations at the following airports could be impacted should airlines begin heeding the FAA’s advisory:

  • Kuwait City (KWI)
  • Dammam (DMM)
  • Bahrain (BAH)
  • Qatar (DOH)
  • Abu Dhabi (AUH)
  • Dubai (DXB)
  • Dubai (DWC)
  • Muscat (MCT)

Meanwhile, the US State Department also updated travel advisories in the region to reflect the FAA’s latest advisory. The following advisories were issued this week:

Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions
United Arab Emirates

Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution
Saudi Arabia

Level 4: Do Not Travel

A full list of travel advisories issued by the US State Department as well as safety tips can be found here.

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Featured image by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images

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