Turkish airlines not suspending Kurdistan flights despite Iraq ban

“All our scheduled flights to the two cities of Erbil and Sulaimania will be carried out as planned.”

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - The national flag carrier of Turkey, Turkish Airlines, on Wednesday announced it is to resume its flights to and out of the Kurdistan Region's airports, despite a ban the Iraqi federal authorities imposed this week.

The airline's statement came the same day Turkey's Consulate General in the Kurdish capital of Erbil warned that Turkish Airlines, Pegasus, and AtlasGlobal were to halt flights by Friday 18:00 local time.

“All our scheduled flights to the two cities of Erbil and Sulaimania will be carried out as planned,” the airline said, reported Anadolu news Agency.

The privately-owned Pegasus airline stated they were in talks with the Turkish Civil Aviation Authority regarding their flights to Sulaimania and Erbil.

"We will be posting news of any further announcements regarding these flights on our website," a press release read.

There was no information relating to the availability of AtlasGlobal's operations at the time of publishing this report.

Baghdad's ban on international flights to Kurdish airports followed the Kurdistan Region's holding of Monday's referendum on whether or not to separate from Iraq.

92 percent of voters approved secession according to official results.

The move for Kurdish statehood has drawn Turkish and Iranian ire, with fiery statements and threats of economic and diplomatic sanctions if not military action.

Both Tehran and Ankara are fearful of similar demands of political recognition and territorial autonomy by their restive millions-strong Kurdish populations.

Iran imposed its air embargo a day before Kurdistan's independence referendum, also opposed by the Kurds' Western allies, such as the US and UK.

The Iraqi General Directorate of Civil Aviation announced the ban after Kurdish authorities' said they saw no reason to hand over the control of its airports and border crossings to Baghdad, a demand imposed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi as a result of the vote.

The US State Department on Tuesday criticized Abadi's ultimatum, calling for constructive engagement and dialogue.


Editing by G.H. Renaud