Times of Oman
Sep 05, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 08:03 PM GMT
Updated: Oman Air avoiding Iraq airspace due to ongoing war, says CEO
August 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM
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Muscat: Oman Air has stopped flying over Iraq airspace as a precautionary measure due to the ongoing conflict, the top official from the national carrier said.

The airline has re-routed its flights to and from Muscat to avoid flying over Iraqi territory.

"This measure was taken as part of our ongoing review of flight paths between Muscat and Europe, and follows our decisions in April not to overfly the Ukraine, and a year ago not to overfly Syria," Paul Gregorowitsch, Oman Air's Chief Executive Officer, said.

As a result of airline's avoidance of Iraqi air space, passengers to and from European destinations and Beirut are advised that flight times may be slightly extended and they are advised to check with their local Oman Air offices to see whether their departure times have been affected.

The move comes as a result of Oman Air's continuous review of its flight paths and follows earlier confirmation that none of its flights have passed through Ukrainian air space since April 2014.

"Oman Air's primary concern is, as is for all airlines, the safety and well-being of our customers and staff, and we aim to take a long-term view of the possible need for changes in the way we operate. Geopolitical developments are considered alongside a range of other issues and our forward planning can result in changes some time before they become a statutory requirement," the CEO added.

Oman Air currently flies to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Milan from Muscat.

A slew of airlines have also said they will no longer overfly Iraq, including British Airways, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Swiss, Air France, Emirates, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways.

On Sunday, Kuwait Airways said it will no longer overfly Iraq in the wake of US air strikes on rebels positions there, the latest company to re-route its flights.

The airline said the decision concerned flights heading to Europe and the United States.

"Alternative routes will pass over Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt," the airlines said in a statement.

The Federal Aviation Administration in Washington banned all US civilian flights over Iraq just hours after American warplanes last Friday carried out the first air strikes on positions held by jihadists of the Islamic State, who have occupied swathes of northern Iraq.

Last Thursday, Etihad Airways has also suspended all flights to Erbil, Iraq with immediate effect until further notice.

The airline's decision to suspend the four flights a week passenger service follows advice regarding the possibility of a deteriorating security situation in the region as a result of on-going military conflict between Iraqi security and ISIS forces, a statement from the airline said.

"The safety of Etihad Airways' passengers and staff is of paramount importance, and the airline will continue to monitor the security situation closely before recommencing scheduled services to and from Erbil," the statement said adding that flights to Basra and Baghdad are currently operating as normal.

Earlier, Etihad Airways had re-routed its flight paths to avoid all Ukrainian airspace.

Meanwhile, Emirates has also suspended its flights to Erbil in Iraq due to increased security concerns. But the airline is operating its daily, non-stop flights between Dubai and Basra and four times weekly service to Baghdad.

While taking to Times of Oman, an official at Emirates said that rerouting will not cost the passengers more and as there are various air corridors, we will not lose time also. The scheduled timings will not be affected.

After the Malaysian flight MH17 crash in Ukraine, Emirates suspended its flights to Kiev also.

To get in touch with the reporter: reji@timesofoman.com

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