The Federal Aviation Administration is to lift a 16-year old ban on US carriers operating flights into Iraq, paving the way for new services to Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.
Civilian flights were banned in 1996, due to concerns regarding then president Saddam Hussein ordering the shooting down of aircraft.
The FAA has now lifted the ban to two airports in the north of Iraq, namely Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. In a statement the administration said that it had “determined that flights by US operators may now be conducted safely to these two airports under certain conditions”.
The lifting of the ban will come into effect on January 7, 2013, although approval must also be issued by the Transport Security Administration (TSA) before new services can commence.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein regime several carriers including Austrian, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Gulf Air have relaunched services to Iraq, and hotel groups including Hilton and Starwood have also announced new properties in the country.
Report by Mark Caswell