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US fines Emirates for flying in banned Iranian airspace

October 7, 2020 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined Emirates US$400,000 for operating flights carrying the JetBlue Airways code in airspace in which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibited US operators from flying.

The airline was ordered to cease and desist from future similar violations.

The Department granted Emirates economic licensing authority to display JetBlue Airways’ designator code (B6) on flights operated by Emirates to and from the United States so long as Emirates does not permit the JetBlue code to be carried in airspace in which the FAA prohibits US operators and airmen from flying.

An investigation by the Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection found that for 19 days in July 2019, Emirates operated flights carrying the B6 code over parts of Iranian airspace despite the FAA having issued a “Notice to Airmen” (NOTAM) prohibiting US airmen and operators from flying in that region.

FAA says it “issued the NOTAM due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region that presented a risk to US civil aviation operations and carried the potential for miscalculation or misidentification”.

By carrying the B6 code on flights in airspace prohibited by the FAA, Emirates violated the conditions of its authority to operate and engaged in passenger operations to and from the United States without proper DOT authority.

FlightRadar24 shows air traffic passing south of Iran during heightened tension in the Gulf region last year

In response, Emirates said that it took its regulatory compliance responsibilities extremely seriously, was proud of its compliance record as a foreign carrier with a significant amount of service to the United States, and devoted substantial resources and management and staff focus to regulatory compliance.

Emirates said that it inadvertently retained the B6 code “due to an internal oversight”. Once it became aware of the situation, it took immediate corrective action to remove the B6 code and stop carrying passengers under the B6 code on flights through the relevant zone.

New York-based JetBlue, a major American low-cost carrier, is the seventh-largest airline in the US by passengers carried. Undaunted by the pandemic, JetBlue announced last month (September 2020) it wou.d add four nonstop routes from Bradley International Airport (to LAX, LAS, SFO, CUN), later this year. CUN is Cancun, Mexico.

Written by Peter Needham

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