(Bloomberg) — Qatar Airways is among a handful of carriers still flying over the Strait of Hormuz amid ratcheting tensions between the U.S. and Iran that saw an American drone shot down in the area last week.
Aircraft-tracking website Flightradar 24 showed at least two Qatari flights overflying the strait during a one-hour period on Tuesday, with other carriers crossing the zone including FlyDubai, Pakistan International Airlines, Ariana Afghan Airlines and Air Astana of Kazakhstan.
Carriers worldwide diverted flights away from the southern end of the Persian Gulf after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an edict last week barring American operators from the region. The regulator said that heightened military activities and increased political tensions presented a risk to planes in the form of “potential miscalculation or mis-identification.”
Qatar Airways, which said it’s not commenting on the “political situation,” has less room for maneuver than other carriers due to a ban on flights in airspace to the west, south and east imposed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over its government owner’s alleged links to Iran. Doha-Asia services have little option but to cross the strait, with Flightradar showing a flight from Kathmandu and one to Shanghai doing so on Tuesday.
FlyDubai, sister company to long-haul giant Emirates, said that while some of its flights have been diverted to avoid the most sensitive area, others are still operating over the strait. Flightradar showed one such service from Dubai to Pakistan crossing the area.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has yet to fall in line with the FAA directive, with a spokesman saying it’s continuing to monitor the situation. Even if a so-called conflict zone information bulletin was to be issued, airlines would still be free to reach their own operating decisions, unless instructed otherwise by their national authority.
(Updates with EASA stance in final paragraph.)
—With assistance from Christopher Jasper and Layan Odeh.
To contact the reporter on this story: Shaji Mathew in Dubai at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Anthony Palazzo at email@example.com, Christopher Jasper, John Bowker