Virgin Atlantic says it accidentally breached a US ban on flying over Iraq after being fined more than £870,000 by US authorities.
This us Department of Transportation hit airline The airline was fined $1.05 million (£870,700) after it was found that a “substantial” number of flights between the UK and India passed through Iraq’s restricted airspace between September 2020 and September 2021.
At the time, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned U.S. airlines from flying at any altitude because of “increased militia activity and heightened tensions.” Iraq“.
US federal agencies still prohibit civilian aircraft from flying below 32,000 feet.
The department said Virgin Atlantic was restricted by the FAA at the time because it was operating in partnership with Delta Air Lines, the American company that owns 49 percent of the British company.
The companies have a so-called codeshare agreement, in which Delta puts its own “code” on some Virgin Atlantic flights and sells seats like Delta planes.
In a consent agreement released on Tuesday, Virgin Atlantic said the overflight was unintentional.
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The airline said it has complied with FAA restrictions on codeshare flights in the past, and that the violations were due to disruptions and staffing shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline said it immediately rerouted the flight after learning of the violation.
The Press Association said that half of the fine, or £435,350 ($525,000), would be waived if Virgin avoided a similar breach within a year.