The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has eased rules on US cargo carriers flying in select Middle Eastern airspace.

The shift comes after numerous cargo and express package operators requested relief from NOTAM A0003/20, which was issued on January 7 restricting all US carriers from operating in overwater airspace above the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

The FAA has now written to Atlas Air (and its subsidiaries Polar Air Cargo and Southern Air), FedEx Express, Kalitta Air, and Omni Air International to notify them of changes to the restrictions.

It said that while it would continue to restrict US airlines from transiting overwater airspace above the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, it would permit operations to Bahrain, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, and Muscat as long as operators are “on a published instrument procedure or under the direction of air traffic control [and] minimise overwater operations to the maximum extent possible.”

FAA records show that after receiving the notice, all of the carriers, apart from FedEx, withdrew their requests for exemption as the FAA had instructed. In its original application for exemption, FedEx had provided minimal details for security reasons.