Strategic Meetings Summit London, 26 September,
September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
Dubai-based airline Emirates is to stop flying over Iraq due to fears of a militant attack, similar to the one that caused the MH17 Malaysia Airlines crash.
The airlines' president and CEO Tim Clark told The Times that Emirates flights would be re-routed to other flight paths to avoid the possibility of an attack by surface-to-air missiles from Iraqi militants.
Clark said the MH17 crash in Ukraine has "changed everything" and he believes other airlines that use Iraqi airspace will soon follow suit and re-route their flights.
"This is a political animal but . . . the fact of the matter is MH17 changed everything, and that was very nearly in European airspace,” Clark said in an interview.
“We cannot continue to say, ‘Well it’s a political thing’. We have to do something. We have to take the bull by the horns.”
Emirates currently makes up the largest number of more than 50 flights a day that travel in and out of British airports and across Iraqi airspace, which is on the main flight corridor linking Europe with Asia.
Clark said the change in policy will take affect over the next 10 days, and expects other airlines to follow suit after the loss of flight MH17 was attributed to a surface-to-air missile.
“We can’t do it all at once because we have got an awful lot going through it, but yes we will be doing that,” he said.
Emirates is considering alternative routes such as across Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea, up over Cairo and into European airspace. This journey would add up to 45 minutes to flight times.
“That is the kind of thing that will demonstrate to the public that we take this extremely seriously and that is exactly what we are doing,” Clark said.
In the wake of MH17 Clark called for an international summit to discuss whether changes need to be made with regards to flight paths over war zones.