Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa’s first and largest low-cost carrier (LCC), has announced the launch of non-stop service to the city of Sulaymaniyah in the north of Iraq.

The new service from the carrier’s primary hub in Sharjah marks Air Arabia’s fourth destination in Iraq and 152 worldwide. From November 6, 2018, Air Arabia will offer two weekly flights to Sulaimaniyah, making it convenient for passengers travelling between both cities.

Offering convenient timings, the three-hour flight will operate twice per week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The outbound flight on Tuesday’s will depart from Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) at 05:00 and land in Sulaimaniyah International Airport (ISU) at 06:55 local time. The return flight will leave Sulaimaniyah at 07:35 and land in Sharjah at 11:05 local time.

On Fridays, the flight will depart from Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) at 15:00 and land in Sulaimaniyah International Airport (ISU) at 16:55 local time. The return flight will leave Sulaimaniyah at 17:35 and land in Sharjah at 21:05 local time.

Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia, said:

“We are pleased to launch this new service to Sulaimaniyah, our fourth destination in Iraq, after Baghdad, Najaf and Erbil. We continuously seek ways to enhance airline connectivity with Iraq, given the growth in business ties between the two nations. The additional route is a testament to Air Arabia’s commitment to providing affordable air travel to our growing customer base.”

(Source: Air Arabia)

By John Lee.

Iraqi Airways has reportedly carried 9,200 passengers between Iraq and Russia in the first 12 months of operating flights.

According to rusaviainsider.com, this consisted of 5,200 inbound to Russia and 4,000 outbound.

The majority of those passengers flew between Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport and Baghdad, with the rest flying between Vnukovo and Basra.

(Source: rusaviainsider.com)

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.

Iraqi planes land in Damascus following 7-year hiatus

Following a seven-year hiatus caused by the economic embargo imposed on Syria and the unstable security situation, an Iraqi civilian airplane landed Aug. 20 for the first time at Damascus International Airport. Syria used this step politically and deemed it a victory for the Syrian army against terrorism, as was announced by the Syrian Minister of Transport Aug. 20.

In conjunction with growing air traffic, the director of Damascus International Airport, Nidhal Mohammed, revealed Sept. 12 that the number of arrivals to the airport increased by 20% over the same period last year, and the proportion of air freight also increased 15% from last year.

Prior to the return of the Iraqi airplane to Damascus, Iraqi Airways refrained from operating direct flights to Damascus, except for transit flights. Meanwhile, Syrian companies were transporting Iraqis to Damascus and vice versa — especially visitors to religious sites in Syria.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

Fly Erbil, Iraq’s only Kurdish airline, successfully completed its first scheduled flight on Monday.

The plane set off from Erbil International Airport en route to Stockholm in Sweden.

The airline’s administrative director Ahmad Jamal told AFP that Fly Erbil currently has three planes and plans to increase to 10 in the future.

Other destination served include Gothenburg (Sweden), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Birmingham (UK), Kiev (Ukraine) and Nuremberg (Germany).

(Sources: AFP, Fly Erbil)

A Kurdistan 24 press quoted Talar Faiq, the Director-General of Erbil International Airport (EIA) as saying that the KRG could suspend domestic flights between the Kurdistan Region’s airports and the rest of Iraq due to financial issues and Baghdad’s international flight ban.

“Since the Iraqi government’s ban went into effect late September 2017, Iraqi Airways has not paid for its landings at the EIA [for flights originating from Baghdad and other Iraqi airports],” Faiq said.  “Baghdad owes the EIA an amount of 37 million USD for landing at the airport,” the Director-General added.

The EIA had previously warned that Baghdad’s ongoing embargo on the airports in the Region might lead to the suspension of domestic flights, as the expenditure at the local airports would be higher than the revenues generated.

It would be difficult to handle its $2.3 million monthly expenses which include employee salaries, allowances, fuel, utilities, electricity, cleaning, and maintenance due to decreased income following the international flight ban,” the EIA said in a statement.  “The flight ban also forces the EIA to suspend contracts with French and German companies worth USD 35 million [to renovate and expand the airport],” the statement added.

(Source: GardaWorld)

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation in the Kurdistan Region reiterated that the Ministry has not received any formal approval from Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi to lift the ban on international flights from the airports in the region.

Asked whether Baghdad was trying to delay resolving the issue with Erbil, Omed Mohammed said that he has no knowledge why the Federal government has not lifted the ban on the airports after the region had shown commitment to all of the conditions introduced by Iraq.

According to the Kurdish official, the Kurdish Regional Government has already accepted all of the conditions made by the Federal government, but there was no sign from Baghdad’s side to end the punitive measures imposed on the region.

(Source: GardaWorld)

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)