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Qantas changes tack on Iraqi airspace

written by Jordan Chong | August 4, 2014

Qantas will now avoid flying over Iraq.
Qantas will now avoid flying over Iraq.

Qantas says it will now avoid Iraqi airspace after updated advice from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA issued a new advisory note over the weekend, restricting US airlines from flying at or below 30,000ft “due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Iraq”.

The regulator had previously advised airlines not to fly at or below 20,000ft.

Qantas noted that its flights over Iraq were usually at an altitude of between 38,000 and 41,000ft and that the airline had “no new information that alters our safety assessment of flying over Iraq, especially given the altitudes we maintain over this region”.

“However, given the various restrictions imposed by different governments in the past 24 hours, including by the United States’ FAA, Qantas temporarily rerouted its flights within the Middle East to avoid Iraqi airspace,” Qantas said in a statement released on August 2.

“This change will apply until further information becomes available.”

Qantas said the flightpath adjustment was not expected to significantly increase flight times on its services between Dubai and London.


“We will continue to assess this situation and make any further amends we think are prudent,” Qantas said.

The decision to avoid Iraqi airspace comes just days after the Flying Kangaroo said there was no risk to its flights flying over the country.

On July 29, Qantas chief captain Dick Tobiano said there was no information to suggest that there was a risk to commercial aircraft passing over Iraq, “particularly at the altitudes we fly”.

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


  • Adrian



    Learning from previous events is what makes flying safer.

  • Patrick Kilby


    Jordan the very interesting question you should look into is how QF got Iranian overflight permission (when there are sanctions in place), which EK did not seem to have when they proposed flying via Saudi and Egypt a few days back. There may have been some wheeling and dealing on this issue, which resulted in the FAA lifting the ‘floor’ for flights and permission to overfly Iran, and thus saving expensive and time consuming diversion via Saudi and Egypt, which one presumes EK is now not going to do.

  • Henk Luf


    I suspect that the change of tack is also due as a result of public pressure in Australia this given the comments via social media.

  • Mike Borgelt


    “particularly at the altitudes we fly”. Does anyone think about what happens in a depressurisation incident? Or an engine shut down or failure.
    I guess airlines cart around the passenger oxygen and its maintenance requirements just for fun?

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