In late July 2020, Germany and France published Notams containing airspace warnings for both Armenia and Azerbaijan following clashes along the northern border which broke out earlier that month.
The flare-up reportedly involved exchanges of artillery fire between the two countries in the northern Tavush region, with each side accusing the other of trying to seize front-line positions in the mountainous area.
At least 16 people were reported to have been killed in the fighting, with both sides also claiming to have shot down enemy drones. The Armenian military later displayed the remains of the 13 Azerbaijani drones it shot down, and claims that 10 of them were attack drones that were about to strike Armenian military and civilian targets in the northern Tavush region bordering Azerbaijan.
Although the airspace warnings issued by Germany did not restrict overflights to certain flight levels, the Notams for both Armenia and Azerbaijan warned of a “potential risk to aviation… from military operation including anti aviation weaponry.” The German Notam containing this warning was published on July 17, and was then cancelled on July 31.
The airspace warnings issued by France were a bit different. Essentially, they said that operators should not overfly Armenia east of 44’45 East longitude; or Azerbaijan west of 47’20 East longitude except for certain airways in the far north of the UBBA/Baku FIR at FL340 or above. Here’s what that looks like. (Shaded area shows where French operators are requested not to fly; airways highlighted in yellow show where French operators are permitted to fly at FL340 or above):
The French Notam containing this warning was published on July 24, and although the Notam got cancelled on July 30, the warning got incorporated into the big AIC that France maintains with airspace warnings for various different countries around the world. Therefore, this warning remains in effect until further notice.
For more info on all these airspace warnings for Armenia and Azerbaijan, check out SafeAirspace.net
Azerbaijan has established a Temporary Restricted Area along the border with Armenia, which means that all east-west airways between the two countries are now effectively closed. UBBA Notams A0110 and A0111 have the details (currently valid until Sept 18), but to make things a bit easier, the closed airspace looks like this. (Red shaded area shows closed airspace; yellow highlighted airways are the north-south airways closest to the closed airspace):
All of the north-south airways on both sides of the border remain open. Some of these are popular routes for traffic between Europe and the Middle East electing to overfly Iranian airspace instead of routing over Iraq. Pay particular attention to these latest airspace warnings for Armenia and Azerbaijan if flying on any north-south airways close to the border between the two countries, especially M54 and N82 on the Armenia side, and M737 on the Azerbaijan side. Keep an eye on SafeAirspace.net for the latest.
Azerbaijan and Armenia also have a long-standing dispute over the possession over Nagorno-Karabakh, an area located in the south-west of Azerbaijan labelled on airway charts as UBP3 (see map above). Although this area falls under the Baku FIR, it’s a de facto independent state with Armenian backing. There’s a heavy military presence in this region too, and though there are no published airways here, Azerbaijan has had a Notam in place since 2011 warning that the airspace is prohibited.
Fighting in the north now appears to have paused but tensions remain high between both countries, and further clashes in the area are possible in the near term. In Azerbaijan, thousands of protesters took to the streets in late July to support retaking Nagorno-Karabakh by military force – so this latest conflict is by no means over just yet.
More on the topic:
- More: UIA flight 752: Iran military shot down plane after chain of errors
- More: Cargo plane in Somalia may have been shot down
- More: Iran and Iraq airspace restrictions
- More: FAA eases Gulf airspace restriction
- More: Passenger plane almost shot down over Syria