Emirates Airline was fined $1.8 million by US authorities for operating flights in prohibited Iraqi airspace, the Transportation Department said Thursday. 

The world’s largest long-haul airline flew planes carrying the designator code of US carrier JetBlue Airways Corp. over areas in the country that the Federal Aviation Administration had banned for US operators, the department said in a statement. The so-called codeshare agreement is a business arrangement that allows an airline to sell seats on a flight operated by another carrier. 

The violations occurred between December 2021 and August 2022, according to the department. The airline received a similar fine in October 2020.

According to the consent order, Emirates said pilots entered the banned airspace because they were directed to by air traffic controllers. The airline told the department that failure to do so “would have had significant safety implications,” according to the order. 

“Our pilots duly followed ATC instructions, a decision which is fully aligned with international aviation regulations for safety reasons,” an Emirates spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “Emirates’ priority is always the safety of our passengers and employees.”

JetBlue said its arrangement with Emirates ended in October 2022, and was unrelated to the flights in question. The two airlines entered into the bilateral codesharing agreement in 2013.

--With assistance from Mary Schlangenstein.

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