Royal Jordanian, Lufthansa resume flights to Iraq

Major airlines are taking differing stances on flying over Iraq, with several major operators now avoiding its airspace
Royal Jordanian, Lufthansa resume flights to Iraq
By Reuters
Mon 04 Aug 2014 10:20 AM

Royal Jordanian, one of the main airlines serving Iraq, said on Sunday it had resumed flights to Iraq after a 24-hour suspension due to security concerns.

The airline did not elaborate in its statement on why it reversed the decision it took on Saturday to halt flights to Iraq until further notice.

Royal Jordanian has a weekly total of 30 flights to Iraq, serving Baghdad 11 times a week, as well as Basra in the south, and Irbil and Sulaymaniya in the Kurdish north.

It stopped its twice-weekly flights to Mosul shortly after the northern city fell in June to the Islamic State militant group.

Major airlines are taking differing stances on flying over Iraq, with several major operators now avoiding its airspace, reflecting the piecemeal approach airlines currently take to flying over conflict zones.

Iraq is under the flight path from Asia to Europe, raising security fears for airline operators of attacks similar to the one last month on the Malaysian jetliner over a rebel-held area of eastern Ukraine.

On Sunday, German airline Deutsche Lufthansa also said it would resume flights to and from Erbil in northern Iraq starting on Monday, but would continue to avoid airspace above the area controlled by the Islamic State militant group.

Flights to Asia and other parts of the Middle East also would continue to detour around Iraq, Europe's largest airline by revenue said in an emailed statement on Sunday.

The changes in flight routes would apply to Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo, Austrian Airlines and Swiss, the carrier said, adding that the new flight routes would not significantly lengthen flight times.

Major airlines last week decided to stop flights to certain conflict areas, a move that came in the wake of the June 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 over an embattled zone in eastern Ukraine, which killed 298 people aboard.

Air France-KLM, Britain's Virgin Atlantic, Air Berlin and Poland's LOT were among the carriers that last week suspended flights over Iraq for security reasons.

Lufthansa, which operates two flights a week to Kurdish-controlled Arbil and whose Austrian Airlines unit has a daily flight, had on Friday said it had decided not to fly over Iraq until and including Sunday.

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