The US fines Middle Eastern airline Emirates $1.8 million for flights that passed too low over Iraq

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Transportation Department said Thursday that it fined Middle Eastern airline Emirates $1.8 million for flights in regions off-limits to U.S. airlines while it allowed JetBlue Airways to sell seats on the planes.

The fine involves a “significant number” of flights from December 2021 to August 2022 that passed over Iraq on their way between the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

UAE-based Emirates was fined $400,000 in 2020 for similar flights and agreed not to repeat the same violation.

JetBlue and Emirates had an arrangement called code-sharing in which the New York-based carrier sold seats on Emirates flights as if they were its own planes. The United States lets foreign airlines operate flights sold under the name or code of a U.S. airline if they obey Federal Aviation Administration restrictions when they do.

The FAA had prohibited U.S. airlines from flying over Iraq at less than 32,000 feet for safety reasons.

According to a consent order, Emirates said the flights were planned to stay above 32,000 feet and only flew lower when ordered to do so by air traffic controllers.

Under the consent order, $300,000 of the fine will be dropped if Emirates avoids violating U.S. restrictions for a year.

Emirates and JetBlue ended their code-sharing partnership in October 2022, a few months before Emirates started a similar deal with United Airlines.

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