ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – After more than five months of having international flights banned to the Kurdistan Region’s airports, the first plane landed in Erbil on Monday morning.
The plane flew from Saudi Arabia and landed at the Erbil International Airport (EIA) at 7:00 am, local time. It is expected to carry Kurdish pilgrims for Umrah to Saudi Arabia.
“Today, the first international flight will leave Erbil to Jeddah,” Mohammed Ghafour Khoshnaw, the executive head of the Saudi branch of Flynas airline in Erbil, told Kurdistan 24 on Monday.
Khoshnaw stated that from now on, Flynas would have four weekly flights between Erbil and Jeddah.
A Fly Dubai airplane is also scheduled to land at the EIA at 4:00 pm, local time, on Monday and return to Dubai shortly after with 164 passengers onboard.
Royal Jordanian airline is also scheduled to resume flights to both Erbil and Sulaimani airports at the beginning of April.
Baghdad imposed the flight embargo on both airports on Sep. 29, 2017, days after the historic Kurdish independence referendum which saw an overwhelming majority favor statehood.
The sanction has considerably affected the semi-autonomous region’s economy, forcing many foreign and local companies to close their offices and shut down operations, with hundreds losing their jobs.
After extending the ban twice, the Iraqi Federal Government on March 13 officially announced the re-opening of Sulaimani and Erbil airports.
Editing by Nadia Riva