Why the US government fined Emirates $400,000

Following an investigation, the Department for Transportation punishes the Dubai-based carrier for an infringement 

Middle Eastern airline Emirates has been fined $400,000 by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for operating a flight in Iranian airspace while carrying the JetBlue Airways codeshare identifier. 

Emirates A380
The Dubai-based airline holds a fleet comprising 268 aircraft. Aviation Image Network/Bailey

The carrier had been granted permission to use the American operator’s B6 designator code on flights operated to and from the United States – with the condition that it did not permit the JetBlue code to be carried in airspace in which the FAA prohibits US operators and airmen from flying. 

An investigation by the department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection found that for 19 days in July last year, Emirates operated flights carrying the B6 code over parts of Iranian airspace despite the FAA issuing a NOTAM prohibiting operations in that region. 

JetBlue Airways
JetBlue Airways holds the IATA designator code of B6. Aviation Image Network/Simon Gregory

In a statement, the DOT said: “By carrying the B6 code on flights in airspace prohibited by the FAA, Emirates violated the conditions of its authority to operate and engaged in passenger operations to and from the United States without proper DOT authority.” 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued the NOTAM due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region that, “presented a risk to US civil aviation operations and carried the potential for miscalculation or misidentification,” added the department. 

In response, Emirates said that it takes its regulatory compliance responsibilities “extremely seriously” and that it “is proud of its compliance record as a foreign carrier with a significant amount of service to the United States”. 

It added that due to an “internal oversight” it inadvertently retained the B6 code and once it became aware of the situation, “it took immediate corrective action”. 

The first $200,000 is due and payable within 120 days from October 1, and the remaining balance has to be paid within one year.