The Iraqi Airways Company recently announced it is slashing fares by between 10% and 15% on flights to various international destinations, general director Capt. Saad al-Khafajy said.
The reductions are designed to lower the cost of travel for Iraqi citizens, he said, adding that he expects the decision will boost passenger traffic aboard Iraqi Airways planes.
The decision comes as part of a series of steps taken by the airlines to enhance travelling via Iraqi Airways, including improving air safety, he said.
Safety is the core travelling cost, al-Khafajy said, and to this end the company is "working on developing the expertise of all of our staff, whether pilots, engineers or technicians, in addition to subjecting our current fleet to regular maintenance and service checks using the most up-to-date equipment".
The company continues to add modern planes, he said, noting that in 2014, between seven and nine new planes will be delivered to keep pace with the growing number of new routes between Iraq and various world cities.
Since the beginning of 2013, "several new air routes were opened, such as the ones to London, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Malmo," al-Khafajy said.
In 2014, "we hope to open new routes to other cities like Beijing, Guang-Zhou and Baku, and as soon as agreements are concluded with the civil aviation authorities in those countries, flights will be started to and from those cities," he said.
Capt. Nasser Hussein Bandar, general director of civil aviation, said the decision to lower fares is designed to enhance competition between Iraqi Airways and the other airline companies.
"By taking this step, our aim is to lower the cost of travel to passengers, which would lead to increased booking on our airlines, in view of the fast improvement taking place in the level of services provided, the increasing number of state-owned planes, and the end of the need to lease planes from the private sector," he told Mawtani.
The pace of air travel between Iraq and the rest of the world is constantly increasing, Bandar said.
"The latest accomplishment in this area was the signing of a mutual agreement with Armenia on November 8th, 2013 to establish a direct route between the two countries at the rate of seven flights a week," he said.
Similar agreements are anticipated in the future with countries such as Austria, Romania, Russia and China, he said, joining previous agreements signed in 2013 with Britain, India, Malaysia, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and many other countries.
The decision to lower fares "is a good initiative and a proper step because it serves the public interest and will definitely help in boosting the activities of the Iraqi Airways", said Ihsan al-Awadi of the parliamentary committee on services.
"[The committee] recently had a meeting with the company's general director during which we discussed with him ways to boost the company's operations, and the development of its services, whether those offered on land or in the air," he added.
Al-Awadi reaffirmed his committee's support of any efforts aimed at "modernising the Iraqi air transport fleet through the purchase of new planes, building up skills nationally in the area of civil aviation, or in opening additional air routes with the countries of the world".