By John Lee.

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reduced its flight restrictions in Iraqi airspace, though some restrictions will remain in place.

It had previously prohibited all US civilian flight operations over the country due to risks relating to the armed conflict with the Islamic State group.

Rudaw quotes a statement from Baghdad International Airport as saying that the announcement “means that global airlines can go over Iraqi airspace wherever they want.

The FAA statement can be viewed here.

(Sources: Govdelivery, Rudaw)

By John Lee.

Fly Baghdad‘s Chief Executive Ali al-Hamdany has told Reuters that the budget airline plans to start flights to Europe and India next year, and is planning a stock market listing in 2020. It will also start flights to Ankara and Beirut in the coming weeks.

It currently operates two Boeing 149-seat 737-700 jets and one 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200 to Erbil and Sulaimaniya, and internationally to Istanbul and Amman.

The airline, launched in 2015, is owned by Iraqi investors.

According to Reuters, it aims to become profitable next year after it adds flights to Frankfurt in Germany, Malmo in Sweden, and Delhi in India as part of its proposed network expansion that will also include Dubai.

(Source: Reuters)

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) has reached an agreement with its counterpart in Greece to re-start flights between the two countries, following a meeting between the parties on Tuesday.

According to a report from Neos Kosmos, there will be 10 passenger flights and two cargo flights per week, commencing on Saturday 4th November.

(Sources: Iraqi Ministry of Transport, Neos Kosmos)

Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA), the national carrier of Saudi Arabia, began operating nonstop flights between the airline’s hub in Jeddah and the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad on Monday.

The route will commence as a daily service until November 15, with double-daily frequency thereafter.

A single-class Airbus A330 will be deployed on the route, featuring 300 Guest Class (Economy) seats.

Linking the port city of Jeddah and Baghdad will provide a new air bridge and flexible connectivity for new business ties and growing economic development between the two nations.

The convenient schedule times departing at 12:35hrs from Jeddah, arriving into Baghdad at 15:00 hrs.

The second daily flight commencing November 16, will have a departure time from Jeddah at 03:50 hrs arriving at 06:15 hrs.

The total flying time between Jeddah and Baghdad is 2 hours 25 minutes (2 hours 50 minutes from Baghdad to Jeddah).

The route resumes after a 27 year interruption dating to 1990.

(Source: Saudia)

The rising level of dust pollution in Iraq forced Iranian airlines to cancel their flights to the Arab country’s cities of Baghdad and Najaf ahead of Arbaeen, the 40th day after the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shiite Imam.

With dust clouds reducing visibility, Iranian flights heading to Baghdad and Najaf were grounded or delayed for a second straight day on Tuesday, Iranian media reported.

Officials at Imam Khomeini International Airport said the pilgrims traveling to Iraq for Arbaeen were required to call “199” and get the necessary information before heading to the airport.

Authorities at Najaf and Baghdad airports have also canceled all the flights because of the wind-blown dust caused by sandstorms in the Arab country.

A large group of Iranian pilgrims, wearing face masks, are stranded in airports and at Iran-Iraq joint border crossings.

Each year, a huge crowd of Shiite Muslims attend the religious commemoration of Arbaeen, by marching toward the holy city of Karbala, Iraq, which hosts the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS).

During the Arbaeen event, volunteers set up thousands of congregation halls and pavilions in Najaf and Karbala and along the road between them to offer services for the travelers and pilgrims.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly filed a complaint with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) following Baghdad’s decision to close the region’s airspace to international traffic.

The closure came after Kurdish authorities refused to hand over control of the airports to the central government, following last week’s referendum on Kurdish independence.

According to The National newspaper, the complaint to the ICAO claims that the air embargo was preventing aid from getting to displaced people.

(Source: ch-aviation)

By John Lee.

Direct international flights will be suspended to and from Erbil International Airport (pictured) starting from Friday evening, following a decision by the Iraqi cabinet and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, an airline official has told Xinhua.

The move follows the region’s vote for independence in Monday’s referendum.

Airlines including Qatar Airways, EgyptAir and Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines had already informed passengers that flights would be cancelled at the request of Iraq’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Only domestic flights will be permitted, and all the already-booked tickets for international flights should be through Baghdad international airport.

Iraq’s Tourism Board also announced on the halt of domestic tourism movement to the Kurdish region starting from early next week.

(Sources: Xinhua, The Independent, Reuters)

(Picture credit: Makyol)

By John Lee.

Iran has reportedly closed its airspace to all flights originating in Iraqi Kurdistan.

It’s state-run IRNA news agency said on Sunday that the move followed a request from Baghdad.

In a separate development, an Iranian official has been quoted as saying that plans are in progress for direct flights between Erbil and the city of Urmia, in Iran’s Kurdistan province.

(Source: Financial Times)

(Image credit: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By John Lee.

An Iranian official has been quoted as saying that plans are in progress for direct flights between Erbil International Airport (pictured) and the city of Urmia, in Iran’s Kurdistan province.

Ahmad Montazami, the head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s office in Urmia, told Fars News Agency that the service could be started early next year.

He added that Urmia is an important destination for medical tourism.

In a separate development, Iran has reportedly closed its airspace to flights originating in Iraqi Kurdistan.

(Source: Rudaw)