The state-owned Iraqi Airways is offering one of its old Boeing jetliners for sale as scrap as it continues to sell off the remnants of a decades-old fleet that was moved to neighbouring countries after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The 737-200, parked for years at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, had been used by Saddam Hussein’s government to transport VIPs.
“This is one of the old aircraft which cannot be returned to service,” said Nasir al-Amiri, an adviser to Iraq’s transportation minister. “There were six aircraft (in Jordan). We sold five and this is the last one.”
“This is not a part of fleet modernization. It’s an old airplane and to get it back [in working order] would cost huge amounts of money,” Amiri said.
Thirteen Boeing 707, 727 and 737 aircraft were sent by Hussein’s government to Jordan, Tunisia and Iran to keep them safe from alliance airstrikes after the start of the war to liberate Kuwait, officials said.
Economic sanctions, political disputes and other factors prevented Iraq from maintaining or retrieving the aircraft. In some cases they were held due to compensation issues related to the Kuwait invasion and the Iran-Iraq war.
Baghdad and Kuwait have been locked in a long-running dispute over billions of dollars in reparations, including some $1.2 billion related to aircraft and parts seized during Saddam’s invasion.
Iraq’s government said last year it would dissolve Iraqi Airways within three years to avoid asset claims by Kuwait, whose national airline has pursued court judgements against Iraqi Airways.
Last month Kuwait seized the Iraqi Airways office in Amman after obtaining a court ruling there.
“There is no relation between the sale of these planes and the problem with Kuwait Airways. Our technical teams confirmed that it is not economic feasible to maintain the aircraft or return them to Iraq,” said Salman al-Behadli, a deputy of the transportation minister.
Amiri said Iraq had sold the Boeing jets in Tunis and five of those in Jordan but five remain in Tehran. Behadli said Iraq is negotiating with Tehran over the planes but had not yet reached a political agreement that would allow them to be sold.