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Gulf carriers re-routing to avoid northern Iraqi airspace

Airlines in the Gulf region are becoming increasingly cautious of the security situation in strife-torn Iraq and are re-routing their flights to maintain a safe distance from the troubled zone.

Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air, has announced the re-routing of its European flights to avoid northern Iraqi airspace, as the airline takes further precautions amid growing concerns over the deteriorating security situation.

The airline’s European flights, which are the only flights to operate over northern Iraqi airspace, will be re-routed effective immediately using alternate, more secure flight paths.

This change will apply until further information becomes available as the national carrier continues to monitor the situation closely.

Gulf Air’s existing Iraq operations (3 weekly flights to the Iraqi capital Baghdad and daily flights to Al-Najaf) are being reviewed on a day-to-day basis in advance of operations.

At the moment, flights between Bahrain and the two Iraqi cities continue as normal although Bahrain’s national carrier is taking the necessary precautions while working closely with government and air traffic control authorities in Iraq to prepare for all eventualities.

On Thursday, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways suspended all flights to Erbil, Iraq with immediate effect.

“The decision to suspend the four flights a week passenger service follows advice regarding the possibility of a deteriorating security situation in the region as a result of on-going military conflict between Iraqi security and ISIS forces,” the airline said.

Days later, the airline said it will re-route its flights to avoid conflict airspace in Iraq.

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