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Emirates fined $1.5 million for operating flights in prohibited airspace

The United States Transportation Department fined Emirates $1.5 million for operating flights carrying JetBlue Airways’ code in airspace prohibited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to U.S. operators, according to the Associated Press.

The violation occurred between December 2021 and August 2022, when Emirates operated flights between the United Arab Emirates and the United States that traversed the Baghdad Flight Information Region below specific altitudes.

Also read: Emirates A380 Business Class Review: Dubai to London

The FAA prohibits all US air carriers, commercial operators, and code-share partners from operating in this airspace without special permission.

This incident also violated a prior consent order issued in October 2020, where Emirates was fined for operating other flights in airspace restricted by the FAA.

Emirates was ordered to pay $200,000 under the 2020 order and another $200,000 if it violated the order within a year.

Emirates claims they intended to operate the flights above the restricted area but were instructed by air traffic control (ATC) to either descend or maintain their current altitude. They argue that their pilots followed safety regulations by complying with ATC instructions.

Also read: Premier Class: Inside Emirates’ Boeing 777

“Our pilots duly followed ATC (air traffic control) instructions, a decision which is fully aligned with international aviation regulations for safety reasons,” the carrier said.

The department noted that Emirates could face an additional $300,000 fine if they violate the rules again within a year. The airline has confirmed they no longer operate flights with U.S. carrier codes over Iraqi airspace.

Emirates maintains they prioritise safety and that the flights only dipped below the allowed level due to direct instructions from air traffic control or to avoid potential collisions. They emphasised the legal obligation of pilots to follow ATC instructions to avoid compromising safety.

Samuel Bolaji

Samuel Bolaji holds a Master of Letters in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. He is an experienced researcher, multimedia journalist, writer, and Editor. He is currently the Editor of Arbiterz.

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