Lufthansa, Austrian Wings not suspending Kurdistan flights despite Iraq ban
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Two German airlines on Thursday announced they will not cancel their flights to the Kurdistan Region despite an Iraqi ban on international flights to Kurdistan.
The Lufthansa declared that despite the Iraqi call, it would travel to the airport in the Kurdish city of Erbil, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.
“The next flight will be as planned on Saturday,” said a spokesman for the company of the German Press Agency. “We assume that there are no impairments.”
On their website, Austrian Wings announced Thursday they are not canceling flights into Erbil because they have not received any official information from Iraqi aviation authorities regarding the flight ban.
Austrian Wings is one of the first European airlines to fly into Erbil in 2007 and is a sister airline of Lufthansa.
Meanwhile, a third German airline, Germania, said it would suspend all flights to and from Erbil and Sulaimani until further notice.
“Germania will continue to monitor the situation and resume flights as soon as the Iraqi authorities reopen the airports for international flights,” a statement published on the airline's website read.
On Wednesday, Turkish Airlines, the national flag carrier of Turkey, said their flights would go on as scheduled because no official communication from Iraq had arrived.
The airline’s statement came the same day Turkey’s Consulate General in Erbil warned that Turkish Airlines, Pegasus, and AtlasGlobal were to halt flights by Friday 6:00 p.m. local time.
“All our scheduled flights to the two cities of Erbil and Sulaimani 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 Sulaimani 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.
Ninety-two 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 Karzan Sulaivany