Emirates to stop flying over Iraq after MH17 disaster

A picture of a 777X in Emirates livery Emirates' president said other airlines would follow in not flying over Iraq

Emirates Airline will stop flying over Iraq to protect against the threat of Islamic militants on the ground.

The airline told the BBC it was taking "precautionary measures" and "working on alternative routing plans for flights using Iraqi airspace".

The move follows the Malaysian Airlines' Flight MH17 disaster. MH17 was shot down while flying over Ukraine.

Emirates said it is already re-routing some flights.

It will take a few days for the re-routing to be completed, the airline added.

"We are closely monitoring the situation along with international agencies, and will never compromise the safety of our customers and crew," said Emirates.

Analysis

Following MH17, there's been a debate over who should make the final call on whether it's safe to fly over a country.

Currently, airlines make the choice based on advice from the relevant local government, their home government and safety regulators.

Some are demanding that governments start taking the lead in deciding where it's safe to fly.

The issue is about to be discussed by world aviation chiefs in Canada. But don't expect big changes any time soon.

The airline industry is notoriously slow at this kind of thing, because it must forge an agreement between so many different countries.

Emirates' president Sir Tim Clark told The Times MH17 "changed everything" and it was "very nearly in European airspace".

Sir Tim said he thought other airlines would follow.

Greater intelligence 'welcome'

He predicted the airline industry would start to look at how it assessed the danger of flying over conflict zones.

Sir Tim said he was "not comfortable" with the situation in Iraq, as fighting in the country intensifies.

The MH17 disaster is largely attributed to a missile fired on the ground in Ukraine by pro-Russian rebels, although Russia has blamed the Ukranian government.

Emirates' president told The Times greater intelligence from the government about the safety of airspace would be welcome.

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