Multiple Arab states, as well as Iran, have announced the suspension of flights to the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq following this week's pro-independence referendum.

Thus far, EgyptAir and MEA - Middle East Airlines have announced the suspension of their respective flights to Erbil from September 29 onwards while Royal Jordanian has confirmed it will suspend its Erbil and Sulaymaniyah flights from the same date. The announcement follows an Iraqi government threat to close the airspace over Kurdistan unless Kurd authorities hand over control of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah airports to the central government by Friday.

The National Security Council of Iran has also announced that the country's airspace is closed to flights operating to and from Kurdistan, at the request of the Iraqi government. The Tasnim News Agency reports that the airports at Sulaymaniyah and Erbil are affected.

The ban is a retaliatory measure against Kurdistan's independence referendum which was held on Monday, September 25, which secured a 92% vote in favour of secession. Reuters reports that turnout for the vote was strong, with 72% of Kurdistan's 5.2 million eligible voters casting their ballot. The referendum has drawn criticism not just from Baghdad, but also from neighbours Iran and Turkey which fear it will destabilize the region further, in Turkey especially given its own restive Kurd population. As such, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has even threatened to 'turn off the oil tap' in response.

"After this, let's see through which channels the northern Iraqi regional government will send its oil, or where it will sell it," Erdogan said.

Although the airspace has now been closed, land borders remain open.

Currently, Mahan Air offers flights from Erbil to Tehran Imam Khomeini 3x weekly, while there are no direct flights from Sulaymaniyah to destinations in Iran.

As of September 27, Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows AtlasGlobal, Fly Baghdad, Iraqi Airways, Pegasus Airlines, Turkish Airlines and ZagrosJet all continue to serve Erbil and Sulaymaniyah on a regular basis.