Turkish authorities are citing an alleged increase in Kurdish militant activity in the region to be the reason behind the ban.

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Turkey has decided to forbid flights to and from an airport in Kurdish-administered northern Iraq from passing through its airspace. Recent incidents in the region have led Turkish officials to believe there is a flight safety risk. The ban will reportedly be in place until July, with a possibility of an extension.

Banned from airspace

It has been reported that Turkey has closed its airspace to all flights originating or destined for Suleimaniyah International Airport in northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Officials in the country believe that there has been an increase in militant activity in this part of Iraq, which poses a threat to flight safety.

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The Associated Press reports Turkey’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgic stating that the airspace closure was a result of activities of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the city of Suleimaniyah, with its airport also being infiltrated.

Suleimaniyah International Airport director Handren al Mufti is said to have also received a communication from Turkish Airlines that the carrier has suspended flights until April 11. But Mufti is not convinced about the reasons behind the ban, saying,

“I can assure everyone that we have no security issues at all, and not a single incident of security breach occurred inside the airport, but apparently there are other purposes behind their decision.”

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Turkey has had a troubled history with the PKK since the 1980s, and the country, along with the US and EU, considers it a terrorist group. Around two weeks ago, two helicopters crashed in the northern region of Iraq, killing Kurdish militants, which seems to have added to the tension in the region.

Tricky issue

Geopolitical conflicts have several repercussions. One of the casualties of such disputes is often the airspace over such regions. The most recent example is the closing of Russian airspace for several airlines following the country’s conflict with Ukraine.

Many airlines in Europe and the US have either had to cancel certain flights or reroute them, following a longer route resulting in more fuel consumption and reduced profits. Several airlines in the US have also urged authorities to put restrictions on certain carriers, such as those from India and China, that are free to use Russian airspace when US carriers can’t.

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Russian airlines have also faced bans across several regions around the world, although recently, Laotian authorities decided that it will again allow planes between Russia’s Far East and Thailand to travel through their airspace.

Oman and Saudi Arabia had banned Israeli carriers from using their airspace for a very long time, but recently their decision to allow overflight for airlines in Israel was welcomed by many.

What are your views on this? Please leave a comment below.

Source: simpleflying.com

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