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Mon 16 Jul 2018 09:41 AM

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Emirates, Flydubai, Kuwait Airways cancel some Iraq flights amid growing unrest

Flydubai, Royal Jordanian and Kuwait Airways have cancelled their flights to the southern Iraqi city after protesters stormed the airport

Emirates, Flydubai, Kuwait Airways cancel some Iraq flights amid growing unrest
Iraqi protesters shout slogans as they demonstrate inside the terminal in Najaf International Airport in the central shrine city on July 13 2018 against poor services unemployment and corruption. Photo: HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images

A number of Middle East airlines have halted flights to the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Basra after days of protests and unrest.

On Friday, hundreds of protestors stormed the Shi’ite holy city’s airport, part of larger protests about corruption and poorly managed government services that have wracked the southern port city of Basra for several days.

According to various news outlets, protesters in Najaf had entered the airport’s main hall. Some had reportedly crossed onto the airport tarmac.

Following the Friday incident, Iraqi transportation authorities announced that the airport would close. The airport re-opened on Sunday, the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office said in an announcement.

In a statement, flydubai said that its flights between Dubai and Najaf – FZ221 and FZ222 – were cancelled “due to disruption on the ground at Najaf Airport until 22nd July 2018.”

“We are in touch with the relevant authorities and continue to monitor the situation,” a flydubai spokesperson said. “Our passengers can rebook to a later date or receive a refund.”

On Monday, Emirates also suspended its flights to and from Basra, EK945 and EK946, “due to political unrest at the airport.”

“We are in the process of rebooking customers with alternative flights and will send updated itineraries to them on contact details given in the booking,” a travel advisory on the Emirates website noted. “Customers are requested to ensure their contact details are correct by visiting the ‘manage my booking’ page.”

The advisory also noted that the airline is monitoring the situation and aims “to give customers as much notice as possible if there are any further changes to our operations.”

Passengers holding tickets to and from Basra are also being advised to check the status of their flight.

Royal Jordanian Airline, which operates four weekly scheduled flights to Najaf, announced that it was halting services from Amman “until further notice, in view of the security situation at Najaf Airport.”

With the announcement, Najaf becomes the ninth Royal Jordanian destination to be suspended for security reasons, in addition to Mosul in Iraq, Damascus and Aleppo in Syria, Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata in Libya and Aden in Yemen.

Additionally, Kuwait Airways announced it was also halting flights, and that existing bookings would either be transferred to other companies or refunded without penalties.

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