US to End 16-Year Ban on Commercial Flights to Iraq

By John Lee.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is lifting its 16-year-old ban on commercial flights by U.S. carriers to two airports in Kurdish northern Iraq, citing increased stability in the region.

Civilian flights were halted in 1996 for safety reasons, the FAA said in a notice to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow (you can download a pre-publication copy here).

The agency will now allow flights into Erbil and Sulaymaniyah airports in Iraqi Kurdistan, following the use of these airports by commercial operators from other nations without incident for years.

U.S. civilian flights have been allowed to operate over Iraq at altitudes above 20,000 feet (6,096 meters), and the FAA has granted permission for some commercial flights into that country under contract by the military or other agencies.

According to the FAA notice, the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees security issues, also must approve U.S. carrier operations in Iraq.

The FAA added that it is committed to actively and continually evaluating airports in other regions of Iraq so that they can be used by U.S. civil operators.

(Sources: FAA, Bloomberg)

3 Responses to US to End 16-Year Ban on Commercial Flights to Iraq

  1. Lorenzo December 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    Well, one more recognition that the KRG is doing something well. It is a pity that the control of air space over Kurdistan is managed by Baghdad and subject to hidden or open retaliations from Maliki like the Turkish Oil Minister visit to Erbil.
    The air trafficvolumes between Syria and Iran is bigger than ever. Obviously, not only pilgrims nor commercial items if any. Now when things are coming to a resolution in Syria and international sanctions are increasing towrds Syria and Iran, there is a risk that Iraq as a nation may get involved in a sanction list.
    The list of iraqi sins is very large from very significant money laundering for Syria and Iran to allowance of iraqi and kurdish air space for arms trafficking between Syria and Iran.
    In such situation, it is very good that Kurdistan is not taking part in those actions which may end in an embargo of Iraq.
    Well, at least in some parts of Iraq, the IOC’s, USA and EU are welcomed.

  2. Uruki-the-Iraqi December 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    Lorenzo, First of all and FYI the aviation control over Iraqi-Kurdistan is managed by an Iraqi aviation operation room for the whole country of Iraq (just like it is done in any other country in this world)…And surely, that is controlled by a central location somewhere in Iraq, be it in Baghdad or anywhere else in Northern or Southern Iraq… So do not come here trying to divide OUR Iraq or cause friction between OUR people… Secondly, you are accusing Iraq of taking sides in the current situation in Syria (without showing us any clear evidence)… And on the contrary to your views, Iraq has offered a peaceful resolution to the situation in Syria and Iraq is also trying to contain and stop the war, while EVERYONE else know who is actually supporting the rebels (financially, militarily and politically) and unlike some countries who stand behind this fiasco (from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, France, UK, to the USA) and who is sending foreign fighters from (Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, and elsewhere) which are adding fuel to fire instead of putting off the raging inferno… Thirdly, the embargo you speak off will surely be enforced ONLY by your so-called civilized western nations, but it will definitely NOT be observed by Russia, China, Iran or any other TRUE friends to the nation of Syria!!… Lastly but not the least, who would want to fly bankrupt US and American carriers over Iraq when these same carriers are doing so bad domestically in the US and elsewhere, who are also losing their assets and are on their way to being written off similar to prior failed airlines (TWA, Pan AM and Eastern Airlines)… These companies are also currently on the verge of collapse and are currently holding the world record of being the worst airlines and are being placed at the bottom of world air carriers… Is that why they want to penetrate the market in Iraqi-Kurdistan???

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