IRAQI Airways resumed international service on September 18, flying from Amman to Baghdad in the national carrier’s first international flight in 14 years since being grounded by war and sanctions.
The airline will follow up with scheduled flights to Syria twice a week and hopes to expand to Dubai within weeks.
Airline officials said the carrier’s sole plane, a newly -purchased Boeing 737, departed with its crew and several passengers from Alia International Airport in neighbouring Jordan, starting a daily route to the Iraqi capital. Iraqi Airways will compete with Royal Jordanian which has operated the only regular commercial flights to Baghdad International Airport since the end of the US led war last year.
After successfully performing a test flight from Amman in August, Iraqi Airways was initially denied regular airspace permission to fly over Iraqi territory, with doubts over licensing validity stalling the process. In addition to security concerns, the airline faces many hurdles in the war-torn country. After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, UN sanctions imposed an economic embargo in 1991 that left the airliner in ruins. Many of its financial assets have been frozen and only one of its 16-plane fleet is currently operable.
Fifteen of its planes were flown overseas, including six grounded at the Amman airport, where most were left to rust. The airline says the planes are “non-functioning” and that it will send out repair teams.
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