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)

French company Alstom has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Iraqi government for the development of urban transport in Baghdad and Basra.

The MoU was signed during the Franco-Iraqi government authorities meeting, in the presence of Dr.Sami Al Araji, Head of National Investment Commission (NIC) of Iraq and Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French Secretary of State.

The MoU covers two major projects. The first project is to implement a 20 km Elevated Train in Baghdad, with the supply of rolling stock, electromechanical systems, tracks, associated civil works. The light rail system would link Al-Mustansirya, AlShab, Al-Wazyria, Alsarafia AlEtafia bridge, Al-Khadumia, AlMuthana airport and Al-Alawi.

The second project focuses on the development of the Metro System in Basra, which consists of two elevated lines of approximately 30km each, 15 stations and one depot for each line from North to South, from Zubair to Shat Alarab and from East to West, from Karma to the Desert.

These projects would significantly contribute to the development of the country’s urban infrastructure and national economy.

“We appreciate the opportunity to develop industrial cooperation with the Republic of Iraq, in order to better address the country’s needs for urban transportation. Alstom is ready to bring its innovative technologies and sees the signature of this MoU as a first step towards the development of a long-term partnership with Iraq”, said Bernard Peille, Managing Director of Alstom in Western & Central Asia.

Alstom is already well established in the Middle East & Africa Region with more than 3,800 employees, 1,800 suppliers and present in more than 15 countries in the region with offices and joint-ventures in Algeria, Morocco, South Africa and Kazakhstan.

(Source: Alstom)

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.

Al-Burhan Airways has opened a new helipad at Al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad.

A spokesman for the company told Iraq Business News that it’s planning to use the new facility to serve the sponsors of Frontier Exchange‘s Iraq Banking & Investment Summit, being held on 2nd and 3rd of December, by providing a helicopter shuttle between the hotel and Al-Burhan’s Centre for Business & Accommodation at Baghdad International Airport.

(Source: Al-Burhan Group)

By John Lee.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has welcomed three new members, bringing its membership to 59 companies.

Menzies Aviation: An independent, time-critical logistics specialist serving the airline industry to the highest standards. At more than 200 airport locations across 6 continents, Menzies offer landside and airside services tailored to customers’ needs; timed to their schedules; and delivered by teams with the knowledge, tools and passion to set standards rather than chase them.

XReach: A leading supplier of mobile communications and cyber security solutions to businesses, government, military and law enforcement agencies. It employs high-end system, network and coding development personnel sourced from specialist UK military and government cyber security backgrounds.

The University of Leicester: A leading university committed to international excellence, world-changing research and high quality, inspirational teaching. The University celebrates diversity amongst staff and students; widening participation in higher education and engaging with local, national and international communities.

(Source: IBBC)

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

In a Nov. 14 press conference, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) authorities that he will not wait long to take control of the Kurdistan region’s border crossings with Turkey and Iran. “We will regain control of border areas without escalation. But our patience will run out. We will not wait forever. We will take action,” Abadi said.

Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade Bulent Tufenkci ssid previously that his country has reached an agreement with Iraq’s central government to open a border crossing through Ovakoy in Sirnak province, southeast Turkey. Being out of the reach of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, the crossing in Ovakoy is a strong economic and political blow to Kurdistan Region authorities.

The border dispute is a result of the desire of Baghdad, Turkey and Iran to keep Kurdish influence at bay. Kurdish authorities have been delaying the handover of the borders, and the Iraqi forces have threatened to start operations to gain control over the crossings.

Meanwhile, the United States and its Iranian opponent are both interested in the Faysh Khabur strategic crossing. The United States is trying to avoid a conflict and it is working on setting a “common security strategy” for all areas of conflict, including the crossing. This explains why the United States has suggested the presence of representatives from its US-led coalition at the crossing.

The Popular Mobilization Units have expressed interest in reclaiming the crossing, which would connect them with their allies in Syria. Moreover, the location links the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline to Turkey and acts as an important and lucrative economic passage between Iraq and its neighbors.

By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

On Nov. 3, NASA published clear images taken by its satellites of the severe dust storm that hit Iraq recently. The climate changes sweeping Iraq are causing human casualties and economic damages. Hundreds of cases of suffocation were recorded.

The Ministry of Health announced Oct. 30 that there were more than 4,200 cases of suffocation in most governorates, including 528 in Karbala. During the dust storm, the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority canceled its flights, and Iranian flights to Baghdad and Najaf airports were also canceled. Ninevah province recorded 1,108 cases of suffocation in the camps for internally displaced persons.

The storms also affected the course of the battles between the Iraqi forces and the Islamic State (IS). On Oct. 31, the Iraqi forces were forced to postpone the campaign aimed to retrieve the city of Qaim, west of Anbar, from IS because of the lack of visibility caused by the dust storms.

While dust storms are occurring in neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and even Iran, “Iraq is one of the most affected countries by the storm, at the level of its environment, individuals’ health and economy,” said Amer Habib of the Technical College Musayyib in Babil province and the director of a project on organic fertilizers in Babil.

“This is due to the fact that Iraq is a barren land where vegetation is scarce. Human activities have swept away orchards and agricultural lands, which also led to the decrease of the rivers’ water levels and the lack of rainfall, which resulted in the drying up of huge areas of agricultural spaces.”

In 2011, the World Meteorological Organization identified dust storms as a natural disaster. Several countries around the world have strengthened their defense strategies against this environmental threat with green belts of trees that are resistant to drought and harsh environments. The stakeholders, especially local governments in Iraq, have been following the same approach for years and have developed projects to help eliminate desertification.

The Iranian president’s chief of staff voiced the administration’s determination to construct a railroad linking Iran to the Iraqi city of Basra, saying the project would give a major boost to the transportation industry in the region.

Speaking to reporters in the southwestern city of Khorramshahr on Friday, Mahmoud Vaezi said various related bodies, including the Arvand Free Trade Zone and the presidential office, have decided to focus efforts on the establishment of the railroad to Iraq.

In addition to better services for travelers, the railroad would function as a regional corridor and bring a major change in the transportation industry, he added.

In February 2016, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had unveiled plans for railroad link with Iraq, expressing the hope that rail access to Basra would enable Iranian pilgrims residing in cities as far as Mashhad to travel to Iraq’s Karbala by train.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Iraqi government has banned international flights from landing in Kurdistan. Locals say it’s causing major financial trauma and is unfair collective punishment. No one knows when the ban will be lifted either.

It has been just over a month now since the two major airports in the semi-autonomous northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan were closed to international air traffic. The closure came as a result of the referendum on Kurdish independence held in the region in late September.

The federal government in Iraq had said the referendum was unconstitutional and as a result, one day after it was held, the federal government demanded it be given control of Iraqi Kurdistan’s border points and airports. It was clearly also a way to ratchet up pressure on the Kurdish.

The Kurdish were given three days to hand over their airports or face the threat of international flights being cancelled. After the 29th and 30th of September, this happened – the only exempt flights were domestic ones as well as military, diplomatic or UN delegation flights.

Losses as a result of this ban at both airports are now estimated to be as high as US$1 million per day, according to Kurdish officials who spoke with NIQASH. The number of passengers has fallen to less than 300 per day. Up until the ban, there had been at least 2,000 passengers per day coming through the airports.

Before the ban there had been between 70 and 100 flights a week, carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 people a day, Sulaymaniyah’s airport director, Taher Abdullah, told NIQASH. “But now we don’t get more than 100 to 150 people and most of those are the passengers travelling through Baghdad,” Abdullah noted.

Formerly the Kurdish airports had been doing almost around half of Iraq’s international aviation business. The Iraqi Kurdish region has long been a favourite launching point for foreigners in Iraq as the region has tended to be more peaceful and prosperous than other parts of the country.

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)