Qatar Airways Fined by DOT for Airspace Violations

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.

Qatar Airways 787. Flickr/Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways 787. Flickr/Qatar Airways

Transportation Secretary Antony Foxx said via a press briefing:

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.

Comments

  1. Having just finished my trip from Doha to Johannesburg, it was more than obvious from the Onboard Passenger Flight Map that we were avoiding Yemeni airspace. Not an issue from my flights. The flight path was clearly avoiding Yemen and added at least 15 minutes to the flight, if not more.

  2. Very disturbing when one recalls the Malaysia flight over the Ukraine. I flew on a a Asian airline (not Malaysian) South Asia to Europe two months before the horrific Malaysia incident. I looked at my flight map and saw that we would overfly the Ukraine, though more southerly in the westbound tracks.. I was aghast, being knowledgeable with military affairs, that we were overflying in southeastern Ukraine. Had I known that they would overfly it I would have taken an alternate airline/routing. Point being is that there are a lot of airlines who are gambling with peoples lives – pressure from corporate for fuel/time savings, screw the risk. Not good at all.

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