US fines Emirates $1.8 million for flying in prohibited airspace over Iraq

Emirates A380 Los Angeles
Angel DiBilio /

Middle Eastern airline Emirates has been fined by the United States (US) Department of Transportation (DOT) for flying in prohibited airspace between the US and UAE while carrying the JetBlue Airways code. 

According to the Associated Press, Emirates was fined $1.8 million after a “significant number” of its flights between December 2021 and August 2022 failed to stay above 32,000 feet while flying over Iraq.  

US airlines are prohibited from flying over Iraq below this height. However, due to its codeshare agreement with JetBlue, at the time the rule also applied to Emirates.  

The DOT said: “Emirates violated the conditions of its authority to operate and engaged in passenger operations to and from the United States without proper DOT authority by carrying the JetBlue Airways code on flights between the United Arab Emirates and the United States in airspace prohibited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to US operators.” 

Emirates argued that it was requested to fly below 32,000 feet by air traffic controllers and was “legally obliged to follow the instructions”.  

The DOT has informed Emirates that it must pay $1.5 million within 60 days. However, the additional $300,000 will only become payable if the rule is violated again during the next year. 

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