Regional carriers cheer green light for Iraq flights

DHL will offer both air express services through DHL Express, and heavy freight and logistics.

Regional carriers have welcomed the move by Iraq's ruling Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to resume flights to Baghdad.

The US-led authority invited commercial airlines to submit applications to provide commercial air service to Baghdad, a sign that the re-opening of Baghdad International Airport was imminent.

Ahmed Hussain Aljanahi, Gulf Air spokesperson, said: "We welcome the move which will pave the way for regular air transportation services to Baghdad.

"We have been in touch with the Iraqi authorities for some time. Its latest move will help us serve the Iraqi people and participate in its rebuilding process."

Airlines were invited to apply immediately, and the CPA said in a statement it will select companies it deems acceptable 'on or about July 10'.

Welcoming the announcement, a Qatar Airways spokesperson said: "We have been looking forward for this moment for some time. We have opened our office and have dedicated staff members in Iraq.

No firm date has been set for the resumption of flights. Applications will be considered for regional or worldwide services, but initially there will be no cargo services, said the CPA.

However, DHL, a leading express and logistics company, has commenced operations in Iraq, immediately following the UN Security Council vote to lift economic sanctions against the country. DHL is the first to enter Iraq, said an official from the company. DHL will offer both air express services through DHL Express, and heavy freight and logistics through its DHL Danzas Air & Ocean division.

DHL is offering a service of three flights weekly, flying from Bahrain to Bagdad. An AN-12 airplane operates on the air express route.