Emirates has confirmed to Khaleej Times that they have reached a settlement with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) after being fined for operating flights with JetBlue Airways’ designator code in restricted Iraqi airspace. An Emirates spokesperson revealed that 122 flights were involved between December 2021 and August 2022. The spokesperson further explained that the settlement pertains to an alleged breach of Special Federal Aviation Regulations (SFAR) which prohibit airlines carrying a US air-carrier code from operating below 32,000 feet over Iraqi airspace.

According to a Reuters report, the DOT fined Emirates $1.5 million for these violations. This action also breached a consent order from October 2020, which had previously penalized Emirates for similar infractions. Under the 2020 order, Emirates was required to pay $200,000 and an additional $200,000 if further violations occurred within a year. The DOT noted that the affected flights had flown below certain altitudes in the Baghdad flight information region, an area prohibited by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) without special permission.

Emirates clarified that their intention was to operate the flights at or above 32,000 feet, but the pilots were instructed by Air Traffic Control (ATC) to descend into the restricted area. The airline emphasized that their pilots followed ATC instructions, adhering to international aviation safety regulations. Emirates has since ceased operating flights with US carrier codes over Iraqi airspace. JetBlue, whose code share with Emirates concluded in 2022, did not provide a comment, as reported by Reuters.