FAA allows US civilian flights to resume in the Persian Gulf

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Saturday that American civilian flights could resume operations in much of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman region, loosening the restrictions announced five weeks ago, amid tensions between the US and Iran.

The FAA said it made the decision because Iran has decreased its military stance, reducing the danger to US civil aviation operations.

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The FAA has banned American pilots and carriers from flying in areas of Iraqi, Iranian and Persian Gulf airspace since early January. The measure was preventive in nature to prevent civilian aircraft from being confused with those involved in armed conflicts.

The FAA announcement said "there is a sufficiently low risk of miscalculation or incorrect Iranian military identification that could affect US civil aviation operations in airspace over water above the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman". These areas cover much of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

However, the agency said it still advises operators to be careful and avoid operating on air routes closest to Tehran's flight information region, an area intended to cover airspace over Iran. The FAA said it " the situation in the region remains fluid and may increase rapidly if circumstances change ".

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At the height of recent US-Iran tensions, Iranian forces accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane over Tehran, killing all 176 people on board. The January 8 attack followed Iranian ballistic missile attacks on two Iraqi bases that are home to American troops. The Iranian attack was retaliation for a US air strike in Iraq that killed an Iranian commander.

The fall of the Ukrainian jet was a bleak echo of when US Navy forces accidentally shot down an Iranian passenger jet over the Persian Gulf in 1988.

Dubai International Airport has been the busiest in the world for international travel for the past six years.

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