US warns airliners about risks of flying over Persian Gulf

US diplomats have warned that US air carriers and commercial operators flying over the Persian Gulf face a risk from being “misidentified” as tensions between US and Iran continue to escalate.

The warning relayed on Saturday by officials in Kuwait and the UAE came from a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Notice to pilots published on Thursday.

It said that all US air carriers and commercial operators flying over the waters of Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman should exercise caution due to “heightened military activities and increased political tension” in the region.

This presents “an increasing inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations due to the potential for miscalculation or misidentification,” the FAA said.

It also warned that aircraft flying over the region could experience inadvertent GPS interference and other communications jamming, which could occur “with little to no warning”.

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Foreign Office says it’s change of advice is due to greater risk of Iranian duel-national and comes at a time when tensions continue to rise between Iran and US.

The Persian Gulf is a major gateway in global air travel and the FAA said the warning applies to airspace “overwater… above the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman”.

The region is home to Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates, the base of Emirates, is the world’s busiest for international travel, while long-haul carriers Etihad and Qatar Airways also operate there, with flights going in and out of their capitals Abu Dhabi and Doha.

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The FAA said its warning applied only to US carriers, US registered aircraft and US pilots, but said it did not apply to foreign carriers or US pilots flying foreign registered aircraft or for foreign carriers.

Sky News has reached out to US air carriers that could be affected by the warning for further comment. Sky News has been told the UK has not issued any similar warning.

The concerns appear to be rooted in what happened 30 years ago after Operation Praying Mantis, a daylong naval battle in the Persian Gulf between American forces and Iran during the country’s long 1980s war with Iraq.

On July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes mistook an Iran Air passenger flight heading to Dubai for an Iranian F-14.

The Vincennes fired two missiles at the airplane, killing 290 people on board.

Concerns about a possible conflict between the US and Iran have flared since the White House sent a warship and bombers to the region to counter Tehran’s alleged ambition to attack American forces or interests in the region.

The rising tensions have also seen Washington order all non-essential diplomatic staff out of Iraq.

Britain has also raised the threat level for UK forces and diplomats in Iraq because of what sources say is a heightened security risk from Iran and on Friday told British-Iranian dual nationals not to travel to Iran.

Hamid Baeidinejad
With America threatening to send 120,000 troops to the region, the ambassador to the UK set out his country’s readiness for war

UK’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said there was a risk the US and Iran could end up at war unintentionally.

Earlier this week, Sky News revealed the Foreign Office is in “crisis mode” because of the rising tensions between US and Iran.

On Wednesday, Iran’s ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad, told Sky News that Iranian armed forces are “fully ready for any eventuality in the region,” and a senior commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has said his country will hit back if the US makes any moves in the Gulf.

All while some politicians in the US are saying the American public is being “kept in the dark” over a possible war with Iran.

In 2018, US President Donald Trump made a decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers and impose wide-reaching sanctions on Tehran.

Despite the escalation of tensions by comments on both sides, Mr Trump said on Friday “I hope not”, when asked if his country was going to war with Iran

Tehran has long insisted it does not seek nuclear weapons, though the West fears its program could allow it to build atomic bombs.

Source: SKY NEWS

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