Kuwait Airways to get $500m from Iraq in days

Debt relates to aircraft confiscated during Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait

Kuwait Airways will receive US$500m in compensation from Iraq in the next few days, Bloomberg reported, bringing to a close a debt dispute that has rumbled on since the first Gulf War.

The payment, which relates to Kuwait Airways aircraft confiscated during Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion, will allow Iraqi Airways to begin flights to the UK and Frankfurt by the end of January, the airline’s director general said.

The carrier is also currently in negotiations to begin flights to Kuala Lumpur, Saad al-Khafaji told the news agency.

Government-owned Kuwait Airways had initially sought US$1.2bn from Iraq for the ten jets that were taken by Iraqi forces during the Gulf War. Two-and-a-half years ago, the airline won a court order in the UK that led to the freezing of Iraqi Airways’ global assets.

Kuwait Airways ceased legal action against Iraqi Airways after a deal on compensation was reached in July and endorsed by the oil-rich Gulf state’s emir in October.

Al-Khafaji told Bloomberg that Iraqi Airways in 2013 will start a three-year programme to train 500 pilots. The airline will also build the largest air training and development institute in the region and has awarded a US$26.5m contract to companies in the UAE and Romania to build the facility.

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