DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, July 28 (UPI) -- Emirates, the Mideast's largest air carrier, announced Monday it will no longer fly in Iraqi airspace.
The decision comes after the July 17 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, and the airline is concerned that Islamic militants in Iraq may possess weapons capable of shooting down an aircraft. The Malaysia Airlines plane was believed to have been shot down by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Tim Clark, CEO of the Dubai-based company, said Emirates would re-route its flights to avoid Iraq, within a week, adding, "The horrors that (the crash in Ukraine) created was a kick in the solar plexus for all of us. We have to do something. We have to take the bull by the horns. That (the decision not to fly over Iraq) 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."
Emirates operates about 50 flights per day that travel over Iraq -- flights that will likely take longer if they need to be re-routed over Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea, Egypt or Iran.
Other airlines that travel extensively in the Middle East, including Etihad and Qatar Airways, have not announced changes to their planes' flight paths.