US cargo carriers ask FAA for exemptions on Middle East ops

Numerous US cargo and express package operators, including FedEx Express (FX, Memphis Int'l), Atlas Air (5Y, New York JFK), and Kalitta Air (K4, Detroit Willow Run), have requested relief from NOTAM A0003/20, issued on January 7, which restricts US carriers from operating in and through the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman. The NOTAM was issued as a result of Iran launching ballistic missile attacks on airbases housing US forces in Iraq, in retaliation for the US killing of Qasem Soleimani, a general in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), on January 3. According to submissions filed with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Atlas Air (and its subsidiaries Polar Air Cargo and Southern Air) has asked for relief "to operate to the Bahrain and Qatar airports, in support of continued operations into the region." The airline specifically requested to fly to Doha Al Udeid, where the United States Air Force and US Central Command both have operations.

Southern Air flies into the region on behalf of DHL Express, with services from the express package operators' hub at Cincinnati Int'l to Bahrain Int'l. In addition to US military mail operations, Kalitta Air also stated in its filing that the exemption would allow it to continue with its services for the express company. According to a report in Air Cargo News, DHL accounts for more than 50% of Bahrain's freight operations.

Omni Air International (OY, Tulsa Int'l) also requested an exemption for its flights to Doha Al Udeid, Muqatra, and Dubai Al Minhad in the UAE, it operates on behalf of the US Department of Defense between January 9 and 31.

In its exemption application, FedEx did not stipulate its route specifics, citing them as being "sensitive" and asked for it to be "protected from public disclosure."

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