Emirates, FlyDubai resume using Iraqi airspace for long haul flights

Dubai-based Fly Emirates and sister company FlyDubai have announced resumption of long haul flights across Iraq three years after putting halt to operations over security concerns.

The announcement follows the Iraqi government’s declared victory over the Islamic State group (IS) on Saturday after the army seized last pockets of resistance from the terror group after three years of intense fighting.

The Two Emirati airlines and other international airlines suspended the use of the Iraqi airspace to reach other Middle East countries, Europe and the US in 2014 when the terror group proclaimed a caliphate in Iraq and also following downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet over Ukraine.

The suspension forced the airlines to use longer and congested routes incurring more fuel cost. Iran and other countries became preferred routes.

The Airlines have also been avoiding the Syrian airspace.

Emirates has “resumed utilizing Iraqi airspace and a very small number of our flights overfly Iraqi airspace each day”, an airline spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

“Safety, security and operational efficiency will always be the top considerations when planning flight paths,” the spokeswoman added.

The airline did not say when it resumed flying over Iraq and which routes will be affected.

FlyDubai on the other hand has resumed the flyover operations since November 28 with the new changes affecting flights to and from Eastern Europe and Turkey.

Despite the three years of insecurity, the two airlines have not completely suspended flights to Iraq. They have maintained the flights but with temporary suspensions from time to time.

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