FAA bans US airlines from flying over Iraq, Iran

missile launching from warship

Following Tuesday night’s Iranian missile attack on U.S. military assets based in Iraq, the Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. airlines from flying in the airspace over Iran and Iraq and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf Oman.

In a statement released around 9 p.m. EST, the FAA said it was issuing Notices to Airmen, commonly referred to as NOTAMs, outlining the flight restrictions. FAA also said it would continue closely monitoring events in the Middle East and that it continues “coordinating with our national security partners and sharing information with U.S. air carriers and foreign civil aviation authorities.”

Tuesday night’s missile attack by Iran was in retaliation for the U.S. drone attack early Friday in Baghdad that killed Iran’s top military commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, tweeted that Iran took “proportionate measures” in self defense, does not seek escalation or war, but will defend itself against any aggression.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been building for months. In September, FAA warned U.S. operators to exercise caution when operating into, out of, within or over what is known as the Tehran flight information region, which is largely comprised of the airspace over Iran and adjacent areas. In June, after Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone, FAA banned U.S.-registered aircraft from flying over the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Oman.

Separately, a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 with 180 people on board crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, according to Iranian media. The crash occurred early Wednesday morning local time. The aircraft apparently was bound for Kiev. Boeing released a brief statement saying it was aware of the media reports out of Iran and was gathering information.