US diplomats in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates communicated the order from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Saturday, The Associated Press reported. The original FAA Notice to Airmen, published on Thursday in the US, notified the commercial planes flying over the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman that they must be aware of “heightened military activities and increased political tensions.”
These activities present “an increasing inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations due to the potential for miscalculation or mis-identification,” the notice stated. It added that aircraft could experience GPS interference and other communications jamming “with little to no warning.”
Emirates, the Middle East’s largest airline, said it had been staying in contact with authorities worldwide but that “there are no changes to our flight operations” at this time, according to the AP. Qatar Airways and Etihad, who also operate in the region, said their flights were unaffected.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been simmering since last May when Trump announced the withdrawal of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), while also reinstating harsh sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The situation escalated earlier this month when the US imposed more anti-Iranian sanctions and sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a squadron of B-52 bombers and a battery of patriot missiles to the Middle East.