The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) in the evening (local time) on Tuesday, January 7, 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). Other airlines and civil aviation authorities may issue similar NOTAMs in the coming hours and days.
Iranian state TV claimed Tehran fired "tens" of surface-to-surface missiles at two US bases in Iraq as revenge for the January 3 killing of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, was targeted in a US airstrike near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) on January 3. According to a statement from the US Department of Defense, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Notably, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike. The situation remains fluid.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to closely monitor developments, confirm flight reservations, anticipate flight disruptions - including longer flight durations or cancelations - and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.