Iraq Looks to Fill Airline Void with FlyBaghdad

Many foreign carriers have halted flights because of conflict with ISIS Iraq is adding a fifth privately-owned carrier to help maintain travel links for its 8 million annual air travellers as major foreign operators halt services because of the country’s armed conflict with Islamic State militants. FlyBaghdad, owned by Iraqi investors, is expected to start flights to neighbouring countries by July, complementing state- backed Iraqi Airways, Deputy Transport Minister Bangen Rekani said in an interview. It will operate two Airbus Group NV A320 narrow-body planes and a Bombardier Inc. CRJ-200 regional jet. “Local carriers are making up for the gap left by the international ones,” Rekani said by telephone. “Travel in Iraq depends on security-if the situation improves the number of passengers will increase significantly.” Iraq’s conflict with Islamic State militants, most recently in Tikrit, as well as an incident in which a FlyDubai plane was shot at in the capital, have prompted airlines including Qatar Airways, Dubai-base Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways to suspend flights to cities such as Baghdad and Erbil. In addition to national operator Iraqi Airways with its fleet of about 30 aircraft, the country’s six airports are being targeted by four other small privately-owned carriers: Al Naser Airlines, ZagrosJet, Bawabat Al Iraq, and Al Burhan Airways. FlyBaghdad has operational startup costs of $25 million to $30 million and should make a profit in its first year, Rekani said. Iraq is also studying the feasibility of setting up a low- cost airline and experts from the International Air Transport Association are assessing the market, he said. - See more at:
Last Update:: 09/04/2015
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