Cautious Lufthansa Will Avoid Iraq Airspace Through Sunday
Lufthansa says it has ceased flying over Iraq this weekend while it evaluates flight security in the country’s air space. [caption id="attachment_81144" align="alignnone"...
Lufthansa says it has ceased flying over Iraq this weekend while it evaluates flight security in the country’s air space.
[caption id="attachment_81144" align="alignnone" width="670"] Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 taking off in Frankfurt (EDDF) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption]
Lufthansa spokesmen said Saturday that the airline is acting out of an abundance of caution.
“Some authorities have forbidden it right now and we want to find the reasons,” said Lufthansa spokesman Peter Schneckenleitner in Berlin. He said Lufthansa typically operates flies 15 flights a day over Iraq, most of them flying between Germany and the Middle East.
Normally, Austrian Airlines, part of the Lufthansa Group, flies daily to Erbil in northern Iraq. Lufthansa itself flies twice weekly to Erbil. For other flights, the effect of the weekend action is minimal, resulting in detours that add about 15 minutes to flight times, Schneckenleitner said.
Lufthansa spokesman Nils Haupt said the carrier will decide on Sunday whether to continue the ban into Monday.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that U.S. carriers should fly above 30,000 feet in Iraq. American Airlines does not fly over Iraq, a spokesman said. Delta and United do not fly over Iraq according to published reports.
The Financial Times reported Saturday that a split has emerged among airlines about whether it is safe to overfly Iraq. British Airways and Etihad Airways continue to fly passenger jets over Iraq, while Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates Airlines and Qantas have stopped, the newspaper said.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways, parent International Airlines Group, said Friday “We fly over Iraq because we consider it safe – if we thought Iraq was unsafe we would not fly over Iraq,” according to the newspaper.
Two weeks ago, Lufthansa was among the last airlines to resume flying to Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv. On July 22, a rocket landed near Ben Gurion Airport and the FAA temporarily banned flights to the airport by U.S. operators. After the ban was lifted, American, Delta and United resumed service on July 24. But Lufthansa, which operates about 14 daily flights to Israel, resumed service Friday.
Subsequently, Haupt said “When we make decisions we (consult) several sources. We don’t only want to follow other carriers. We have our own people in the region, and we take different sources into account.”