ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An Arabian airline on Tuesday had its inaugural direct flight from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the Kurdistan Region’s city of Sulaimani.
On Nov. 6, “the first direct flight from Sharjah International Airport to Sulaimani International Airport [SIA] was conducted by Air Arabia Airline [AAA],” SIA said in a statement.
According to AAA’s schedule, there will be two flights per week, planned for Tuesdays and Fridays.
Following last year’s Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region, multiple neighboring countries halted all international flights to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region. A few months later, in March 2018, Ankara resumed flights, starting with the capital of Erbil but did not include Sulaimani and its airport.
On April 27, flights between Tehran and Erbil resumed, a decision welcomed by the people of Kurdistan who visit Iran as tourists, to seek medical treatment, or to see family members.
Two months later, Tehran restored flights to Sulaimani as well.
For Turkish flights, however, negotiations are ongoing between officials from Sulaimani and Ankara, which has long alleged parties with a stronghold in Sulaimani aid the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, a designated terrorist organization by the US, Turkey, and NATO.
In early August and following a months-long project, the Sulaimani Governorate said the local airport had been expanded, and a new terminal has been opened to accommodate more passengers.
Editing by Nadia Riva