ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Acting Governor of Kirkuk, Rakan al-Jubouri, on Monday claimed Iraq’s Ministry of Transportation would open the Kirkuk International Airport to domestic and international flights as early as next week.
Jubouri’s remarks were posted by his office following a meeting with Transport Minister, Kazem Finjan, on Monday.
The statement read that the Ministry of Transport had “agreed to operate the Kirkuk International Airport starting next week,” running domestic and international flights.
According to the post, the minister claimed flights to Turkey, Lebanon, and Iran as well as internal flights with Baghdad and other provinces would begin in the coming weeks.
Jubouri said the opening of the Kirkuk airport would have a significant impact on the lives of over one million people living in the province, as well as the hundreds of thousands of others living in the neighboring provinces of Diyala and Salahuddin.
No official statement has yet been issued by the Ministry of Transport.
The Baghdad-appointed Governor had approached the Iraqi federal government about opening the Kirkuk airport to civilians late last year, as it was currently only being for military purposes after it came under the control of Iraqi forces.
In October 2017, Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia attacked and took over the province of Kirkuk and other disputed areas. The Kurdistan Region’s airports at that point had also been closed to international airspace in what was a retaliatory measure by Baghdad to the September referendum on independence.
There is one airport in Kirkuk which was used as a military base by Americans after the fall of the former regime in 2003 and has maintained a military status since.
Authorities in Kirkuk have repeatedly called on the Iraqi government to open a civilian airport in the oil-rich, multi-ethnic city.
In December of last year, local officials had floated rumors that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had agreed to build an airport in Kirkuk as Iraq struggles to attract foreign investment.