European carriers to return to Iranian airspace

January 29, 2020 - 22:45

TEHRAN - The EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Wednesday approved that European airlines can return to parts of Iranian and Iraqi airspace. The decision comes three weeks after the Islamic Republic accidentally downed a Ukrainian jetliner amid an exchange of hostilities with U.S. forces in the Iraqi soil.

EASA announced, following an EU aviation security risk group meeting, that it was lifting temporary recommendations against overflying the two countries altogether, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

However, the aviation agency repeated earlier advice that airlines escape Iranian airspace below 25,000 feet and stick to two air corridors over Iraq, the report said.

Germany’s Lufthansa was among airlines that canceled flights over the affected airspace.

Two weeks ago, Qatar Airways, Emirates and several other Persian Gulf airlines announced they will continue using Iranian airspace despite propaganda over security issues in the region.

“We will continue to fly to Iran because Iran is an important country to us and it is our neighbor and we want to serve the people of Iran,” Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said.

“Iranian airspace is important for all carriers in this region,” said Adil al-Ghaith, Emirates’ senior vice president, the report said.

On January 3, a U.S. drone strike assassinated top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and in an act of retaliation, Iran fired missiles at U.S. targets in Iraq on January 8. The Ukrainian airliner was accidentally shot down by Iran’s air defense as it was on high alert in the tense aftermath.

Iran’s tourism minister on January 12 said that the country’s tourism industry has suffered a setback but it will certainly return to “normal”, in remarks referring to the tragic crash. Ali-Asghar Mounesan said, “These events are a major blow to tourism, but we will leave it behind by the means of new plans and we will definitely return to normal.”

AFM/AFM

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