The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Foreign airlines suspend Kurdistan flights after Baghdad ban Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Foreign airlines suspend Kurdistan flights after Baghdad ban

International airlines have begun suspending flights to the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region. [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 September, 2017

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
International airlines have begun suspending flights to the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region after Iraqi civil aviation authorities issued a ban on flights to Kurdistan following the region's independence referendum.
International airlines have begun suspending flights to and from the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region after Iraqi civil aviation authorities issued a ban on flights to Kurdistan following the region's independence referendum.

Iraqi Prime Minister on Tuesday threatened to enforce a flight shutdown on the Kurdish region if it did not surrender control of two international airports by Friday, with Iraq's civil aviation authority issuing a flight suspension early Wednesday.

Foreign airlines were told that international flights to Erbil and Sulaymaniyah would be suspended at 1500 GMT on Friday with only domestic flights permitted.

Lebanon's flagship carrier Middle East Airlines (MEA) said it would comply with Iraqi civil aviation authorities.

"We are committed to implement," MEA chairman Mohamad el-Hout said.

Turkish airline Pegasus also announced on Wednesday that it would suspend flights to Erbil following the announcement, local media reported, while EgyptAir quickly followed suit, with officials saying the national airline would ban flights after the civil aviation request.

Iran said last week it was stopping flights to Kurdistan at the request of the Iraqi government.

The transport minister for Iraq's Kurdish region said on Wednesday that the airports have not violated any laws that would justify their closure, saying the ban would affect the international fight against the Islamic State.

The ban would affect "one way or another, the military aviation that operates from Erbil international airport," Mawlood Bawa Murad told reporters.

"And Erbil international has become a launching pad for coalition air forces in the fight against Daesh (IS)."

He expressed hopes that the crisis could be resolved by the Friday deadline, but rejected the Iraqi government's ultimatum to hand over Kurdistan's airports.

FlyDubai, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, Turkish Airlines and Austrian all operate flights to Erbil.

Baghdad reacts to vote

The flight ban comes after the Kurdish region claimed victory in an independence referendum that has been vehemently rejected by Baghdad and Iraq's other neighbours.

An official within the Referendum Commission told The New Arab on Wednesday that the final percentage of ballots who voted 'yes' exceeded 90 percent.

The results will be announced after ratification by a judicial committee.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi demanded on Wednesday that this week's vote on independence for the autonomous Kurdish region be annulled.

"The referendum must be annulled and dialogue initiated in the framework of the constitution. We will never hold talks on the results of the referendum," he told Iraqi lawmakers in a speech to parliament.

"We will impose Iraqi law in the entire region of Kurdistan under the constitution," he said.

Iraq's parliament reportedly gave a "mandate" to Abadi to deploy troops in the disputed oil region of Kirkuk.

Tensions in Kirkuk have risen in recent weeks as the rhetoric between the Kurdish leadership and Iraq's central government has escalated.

Control over the multi-ethnic area is bitterly contested by Kurdish and Iraqi forces.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More