The Basra International Airport in southern Iraq will undergo a major expansion and renovation this year, according to its director.
On the sidelines of the first Iraq Airports Expansion, Cargo and Logistics Conference and Exhibition held in Erbil last week, Abdul Ameer Ganim Abdullah said:
"There are several huge projects that will commence this year, which in return will convert the airport into a major airport in Iraq and the northern Arab Gulf region."
A total of $65 million [78 billion Iraqi dinars] has been budgeted for the purpose by the Iraqi Transport Ministry and the Basra Governorate.
The projects at Basra International Airport, Iraq's third largest airport, include renovation of the passenger terminal, repairing the runway, and adding more air-bridges and other basic services such as water and electricity.
Built in the 1980s by European companies, the airport can handle more than two million passengers a year.
Among the carriers that operate scheduled flights to the port city of nearly three million people are Emirates, Gulf Air, Royal Jordanian and the nation's national carrier, Iraqi Airways.
Turkish Airlines will launch Istanbul to Basra services on May 11. According to the airport director, the German carrier Lufthansa is also planning flights to Basra from Frankfurt.
"We had talks with Lufthansa and the plan is to operate these flights from October," he said, while adding that he hoped Austrian Airlines will follow at a later stage.
Both Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have scheduled flights to Erbil and Baghdad.
Abdullah also reiterated the readiness of Basra to receive tourists and business delegations from around the world.
(Source: Gulf News)