Etihad Airways will become the first UAE carrier to fly direct to Iraq, from April 26, pending regulatory approval.
Iraq is experiencing a surge in air travel fuelled by the international reconstruction efforts, its large population and a recovering economy.
Etihad and other carriers want to take advantage of growing demand as Iraq Airways, the nation’s flag carrier, has been slow to expand its services after decades of neglect.
“We expect to see strong demand on these routes, particularly from government and business travellers as well as people from Iraq visiting family and friends around the world,” said James Hogan, the chief executive of Etihad.
Etihad has been operating cargo flights to Iraq since 2008 and intends to operate five flights a week to Baghdad. It also plans to serve Erbil, in the northern Kurdish region, twice a week starting on June 1. Etihad will employ single-aisle Airbus A320s on both routes.