Qatar Airways was fined today by the US Department of Transportation for violating FAA-prohibited airspace. Specifically, Travel Weekly reported that 16 of Qatar’s flights entered prohibited airspace; 8 went into Yemeni airspace, 7 went into Iraqi airspace, and 1 went into Ukranian airspace. According to the official DOT dockets, these flights were operated between 2014 and 2015.
Interestingly, Qatar is being fined because the flights were codeshared with American Airlines. The prohibition on flying into “conflict zones” date back to February 1995, and expressly prohibits operating carrier of any US code-sharing partner to enter, depart, or transit in areas prohibited by the FAA. Qatar began codesharing with AA on these flights in 2013, and will face a $185,000 fine for its violation.
Airlines have a responsibility to ensure that they do not fly their planes through prohibited airspace. The FAA forbids U.S. flight operations over certain regional conflict zones around the world. The Department takes aviation safety and security matters very seriously, and will continue to take enforcement action when these important safety and security restrictions are not followed.
Qatar responded to the DOT’s investigation, and immediately launched their own investigations into the problematic flights. They had since taken actions to make sure they properly comply with FAA regulations into their route planning and management systems. They also said that they implemented a real-time “Flight Watch” system, which went live in 2015.