The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued three Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) barring US civilian carriers from overflying Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf, and the Gulf of Oman at any flight level effective January 8, 2020.

The FAA issued the ban "due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations," following a night of Iranian rocket strikes on US military bases in Iraq.

The ban has limited direct impact as it is only binding for US-flagged airlines. Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) and United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) operated their flights from New York JFK and New York Newark, respectively, to India avoiding both Iran and Iraq before the ban was issued, while United's flights from San Francisco, CA do not necessitate overflying either country. However, the FAA's decision is expected to be followed by airlines on which it is not formally binding.

ch-aviation analysis of Flightradar24 ADS-B data on January 8 revealed that British Airways flight BA134 from Mumbai Int'l to London Heathrow, operated with a B777-200(ER), turned around shortly before entering Iraqi airspace and flew via Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, requiring an additional fuel stop at Athens Int'l on the way to the United Kingdom.

According to Reuters, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, and Air China said they will avoid both Iran and Iraq, while Korean Air and Thai Airways International confirmed they were already avoiding these airspaces before the escalation. LOT Polish Airlines said it would bypass Iran in early 2020. Qantas commented that it would do so as well on its Perth Int'l-London Heathrow flights. The decision will extend the flying time by some 50 minutes, forcing the carrier to impose payload restrictions and reduce the number of passengers.

Emirates and flydubai cancelled their respective flights from Dubai Int'l to Baghdad on January 8 (EK941/2 and FZ211/2), although both carriers continue to cross both Iraqi and Iranian airspace.

The possible closure of Iranian and Iraqi airspace to overflights would be particularly devastating for Qatar Airways, which is already blocked from overflying Saudi Arabia and the UAE, among others. As such, routes over the Gulf are the carrier's only option of arriving at or departing from Doha Hamad Int'l. For the time being, Qatar Airways continues to fly over the Gulf, Iran, and Iraq.