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Mon 9 Mar 2015 10:34 AM

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UAE airlines suspend flights to Erbil on security woes

Emirates, flydubai and Etihad Airways have stopped flying to the northern Iraqi city, citing security concerns over ISIL

UAE airlines suspend flights to Erbil on security woes

United Arab Emirates airlines Emirates, flydubai and Etihad Airways have suspended flights to Erbil, the airlines said in separate statements on Sunday, citing security concerns as ISIL razes ancient cities in Iraq's north.

Budget carrier flydubai, which was involved in a security incident in January when bullets hit one of its planes landing in Baghdad, temporarily suspended flights to Erbil and Sulaimaniyah due to "expanded military activity in the north of the country," it said in a statement to Reuters.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways told Reuters it had suspended flights to Erbil effective March 6 until further notice, due to the "deteriorating security situation in Iraq."

Emirates also suspended flights to Erbil from March 7 and deferred plans to resume flights to Baghdad, which it said last month would recommence on March 1 after the flydubai incident.

"We hope to be able to resume services to Baghdad and Erbil as soon as operating conditions allow," Emirates said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

An Emirates spokesperson added: "We need to assess every part of the operation and at the moment, we are not ready to go back in."

ISIL militants destroyed ancient remains of the 2,000-year-old city of Hatra in northern Iraq, officials said on Saturday. The militants also looted and bulldozed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud last week.

The attacks have forced United Arab Emirates airlines to examine their operations in Iraq for the second time this year.

After the Baghdad airport shooting, the General Civil Aviation Authority sent a flight-suspension directive to all UAE carriers flying to Baghdad.

Flydubai is still flying to Baghdad, the carrier confirmed, while Etihad's service to the Iraqi capital remain suspended.

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