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Qantas to continue flying over Iraq

written by Jordan Chong | July 29, 2014

Qantas is continuing to fly over Iraq. (Gordon Reid)
Qantas is continuing to fly over Iraq. (Gordon Reid)

Qantas says there is no risk to its flights to London flying through Iraqi airspace.

The airline’s services between Dubai and London currently fly over Iraq, as do a number of other airlines’ flights between Asia and Europe.

Qantas chief pilot Dick Tobiano says the airline would never compromise its passengers or crew by flying over an area if it was thought to be unsafe.

“That’s why we no longer fly over Syria or Ukraine,” Captain Tobiano said in a statement.

“We receive regular updates on security matters and there is no information to suggest that there is risk to commercial aircraft passing over Iraq, particularly at the altitudes we fly.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and make any changes needed to ensure the safety of our passengers.”

Qantas said its flights to London usually maintained a flight level of between 38,000 and 41,000ft, well above the US Federal Aviation Administration recommendation for airlines to fly over Iraq at above 20,000ft.


While Qantas continued to use Iraqi airspace, the Flying Kangaroo’s alliance partner Emirates said recently it will route its flights around the country after president Tim Clark said he was “not comfortable” with flights over Iraq.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation was due to host a meeting with the heads of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airports Council International (ACI) and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) in Montreal later on Tuesday.

Airlines around the world have been reassessing their flightplans after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine earlier in July.


  • Aristotles


    Better to apologize after than to be careful enough before. Eh, mate?

  • Adrian


    MH17 was shot down flying over a war zone at a recommended flight level.
    Does any body know what hardware ISIS may have acquired in the territory they now control?

    Will a QANTAS captain be supported if he/she deems it unacceptable to overfly Iraq?

    Does the Emirates decision mean that Emirates will not be code sharing on the QANTAS flights London – Dubai due to the risk to their customers?

    Hopefully it will be OK, but given the choice I would fly Emirates.

  • Frank Perth


    Hint to QANTAS management ;
    38-41000 ft won’t be much help when truck-launched missiles are easily capable of 60-70000 ft.
    Bye-bye passengers, bye-bye QANTAS management, bye-bye QANTAS …

  • Raymond


    I, for one, just hope that Qantas know what they’re doing. Depending on the source, the Buk has an operating altitude of well over 41,000ft (some claim 72,000ft or even more). I presume this depends on the variant in question.

    I seem to remember some reports of self-defence counter-measures being added to Australian commercial aircraft post-9/11. Not sure exactly what this involved or whether it eventuated, however perhaps this is what is making Qantas a little more confident?

    Either way, it goes without saying that MH17 was a big wake-up call, and I can’t see that a Buk for instance in the hands of ISIS is going to be thwarted at FL 380 or 410. Have the post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi armed forces possessed medium-high altitude SAM’s and are these at risk of falling into the hands of ISIS? Can we ever be sure? The fact that Emirates isn’t comfortable with overflying Iraq has to tell you something. We now know we can’t be too careful!

    I really do hope that Qantas has had access to the appropriate level of intelligence to be able to arrive at this ‘no risk’ conclusion.

  • Mr. T


    Typical Qantas attitude, would it rather not consider the old addage prevention is better than cure? Why do they have to be so complacent about these things? Especially with recent disastrous events involving MH? If EK are willing to re-route flights then surely in the interest of safety for all involved not to mention the fact that people are clear on the fact that whilst QF is not re-routing flights over Iraq, some people don’t feel comfortable flying QF, can they really afford this? Considering international ops are far from profitable? Take stock of the situation QF and reconsider seriously

  • Zac


    If it’s deemed unsafe. The airline will cease operations in that airspace.

    For the meantime, it’s all green. So let them fly where they deem to be a safe airspace,

    Enough scrutinising Qantas, remembering it is one of the safest airlines in the world.

    Leave the kangaroo alone, while it’s still alive.

  • john


    I hear Emirates decision may have to do with concerns by their Insurer?

  • Dave


    Qantas doesnt fly over Ukraine as their routes no longer require it, and its a bit disingenuous to suggest they dont because of safety. I think if they still flew Singapore-Europe they’d be over Ukraine like everyone else was until the other week.
    Seems to me everyone avoids Syria, a quick look at FlightRadar24 shows everyone doing a sharp turn over the NE corner, and from that point down to the gulf cities is an extremely busy corroidor with most of it being over Iraq. Theres a big difference between Iraq generally and the ISIS controlled areas of Iraq/Syria, perhaps Emirates flies over more ISIS areas as they have routes to airports in that region. Qantas flies in the busy corridor over western Iraq away from the conflict areas, and given they avoid Syria they also avoid those areas.

  • Paul


    Hmm does anyone remember the Gary Powers saga when his U2 spyplane was shot down over Russia in 1960 by an SA2 missile- The U2 has an operational altitude of 70,000ft! MH17 was shot down by an SA11.
    you do the math- and how many more people are onboard an A380 compared to the avg 777- so Id be flying Emirates, maybe they know something about their part of the word Qantas doesnt down under…

  • Adam


    I think its tremendous that people take such an interest in Qantas, it shows a real proudness to be a part of this airline as Australia’s airline, for everyone and while a lot of other countries don’t value their airlines or are as passionate about them as Aussies are, I am very proud of all that Qantas do and continues to do for this nation.

    The decisions made are made with great thought and effort put in, and I would hazard a guess that there are many corridors in the world that are considered dangerous and that we shoudl be scrutinizing every route, not just signalling out one…plus do we have any evidence that the fighting going on in Iraq will want to attack civilian airliners? Its different for Ukraine, there were reports of shots fired at Ukranian civil aircraft before MH17…I havent heard of any such desire in Iraq???

    In any case, if its something that is so important, petition Qantas to make the changes instead of futile efforts in here, if there is one thing Qantas do do well, is respond to customer feedback, they have made many changes because of passenger feedback and that Mr T…is the Qantas attitude 😀

  • Adam


    And now to set everyones mind at ease, Qantas is now diverting from Iraqi airspace…good work Qantas 🙂 I’m sure a lot of people will feel safer now during these uneasy times in aviation

  • Mr. Wetherby


    All this talk about flying, why not take a ship to Europe,. Unless these nutjobs have submarines I wouldn’t worry.

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