Last updated: 23 May, 2012

Qatar Airways starts flights to Iraqi Kurdistan

Qatar Airways on Wednesday began services to Arbil, the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, and is to start flights to Baghdad next month, the airline and an Iraqi official said.

A Qatar Airways Airbus A320 landed at Arbil airport around noon, with various officials from the carrier on board.

“We will start four flights per week from Doha airport to Arbil from today,” Qatar Airways senior vice president Fathi al-Shehab, who flew on the flight to Arbil, told a news conference.

Karim al-Nuri, an adviser to Iraq’s transport minister, told AFP it was “the first flight between Doha and Arbil, and in general between Doha and an airport in Iraq, in more than 20 years.”

Nuri added that Qatar Airways would start flights from Doha to Baghdad on June 9.

Iraq became a regional and international pariah following its 1990 invasion of the neighbouring emirate of Kuwait, and was hit by waves of violence in the years after the 2003 US-led invasion of the country.

But with improvements in the situation, various airlines from the Arab world and elsewhere are now flying to Iraq.