ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Interior Minister Qassim al-Araji visited the Kurdistan Region on Wednesday and officially declared the resumption of international flights at both the Erbil and Sulaimani airports.
Araji met with Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in Erbil to discuss the recent decision to lift an international flight ban on the Region’s two airports.
Both sides hoped that the re-opening of the airports would be a step forward to rebuilding trust between Erbil and Baghdad as well as the arrival of Kurdistan Region civil servants’ salaries by the Iraqi government, according to the Prime Minister’s press office.
They also emphasized a will and understanding to resolve bilateral issues on the basis of the Iraqi Constitution.
Following his meeting with Prime Minister Barzani, Araji held a press conference with the Kurdistan Region’s Interior Minister Karim Sinjari at Erbil International Airport (EIA), officially announcing the resumption of international flights.
The Iraqi minister stated that the Iraqi Constitution requires all the airports in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to be under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
Rumors spread on Kurdish social media pages claimed the airports would only be open for three months and the directors at both airports would be changed.
In response to a question raised by a Kurdistan 24 correspondent, both ministers rejected the allegations and stated that the directors of the airports would remain the same.
Bestun Zangana, the head of the Transportation Committee in the Iraqi Parliament, who was present during the press conference, praised Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s efforts in lifting the flight ban.
The Iraqi Interior Minister later traveled to Sulaimani and held a similar press conference at the province’s airport, officially announcing the resumption of flights.
Iraq imposed the flight embargo on airports in response to the Kurdistan Region’s Sep. 25 independence referendum—a move Kurdish officials had labeled an “international isolation” of the Region.
The ban was extended twice since Sep. 29 last year. On Tuesday, the Iraqi Prime Minister officially ordered the re-opening of the two airports in the Kurdistan Region.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany