The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Saturday, February 15, that it is relaxing flight restrictions over large parts of the Persian Gulf, weeks after it barred US-operated planes from flying in Iranian and Iraqi airspace. The notice states that "Iran has de-escalated its military posture in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman as of early February 2020." The restrictions apply to Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.
On January 7, the FAA issued a Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs), prohibiting US air carriers and commercial operators from flying in the airspace over the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Tehran Flight Information Region (FIR), which covers Iranian territory, and the Baghdad FIR, which covers Iraqi territory. The FAA states in its NOTAM that its decision is "due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations due to the potential for miscalculation or mis-identification". Flight restrictions were put in place after Iran launched ballistic missiles into Iraq, targeting US forces stationed in the Ain Al-Asad Air Base (Anbar province) and in Erbil (Kurdistan region). The announcement prompted airlines to cancel flights and change flight patterns, causing delays.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to closely monitor developments, confirm flight reservations, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.