Etihad, Gulf Air re-route Iraq flights

BAGHDAD (AP) — Two Gulf-based airlines said Saturday they have re-routed flights over Iraq because of the deteriorating security situation there, even as Turkish Airlines said it has resumed flights to the northern Iraqi city of Irbil.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and Bahrain's Gulf Air announced their decisions after a similar move by Dubai-based Emirates, the Middle East's largest carrier. On Friday the Obama administration ordered U.S. airlines not to fly over Iraq following U.S. airstrikes launched against the Islamic State extremist group, which has seized much of northern and western Iraq.

Etihad said the decision was taken to avoid "conflict airspace," while Gulf Air said it would re-route flights to Europe using "alternate, more secure flight paths" to avoid northern Iraq. Etihad canceled its flight to Irbil on Thursday, though it said its flights to Baghdad and the southern city of Basra would continue to operate as normal.

Gulf Air said it is reviewing its Iraq operations on a daily basis but that flights to the country continue as normal for now. It added that it is "working closely with government and air traffic control authorities in Iraq to prepare for all eventualities." Gulf Air runs three weekly flights to Baghdad and daily flights to Najaf, a key Shiite holy city and pilgrimage center.

Turkish Airlines said Saturday it was changing its flight times to Irbil. The decisions come three weeks after a Malaysia Airlines plane with nearly 300 people on board was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

On Friday the U.S. carried out its first airstrikes in Iraq since troops withdrew at the end of 2011, targeting Islamic State fighters who were advancing on the Kurdish regional capital Irbil. U.S. cargo planes have also begun airlifting aid to civilians stranded in the mountains of northern Iraq after fleeing from the Islamic State group.


Related Headlines

  • Dubai, European airlines divert flights over Iraq

    European airlines and a Dubai-based carrier are rerouting flights over Iraqi airspace as a security precaution amid fears that militants with the Islamic State group have ... 

  • Kurds emerge as winners in Iraq chaos

    Among rolling wheat fields with machine-gun fire rattling in the distance, Kurdish fighters patrol the new frontier of their autonomous region of northern Iraq, dozens of ... 

  • Iraqi Kurds' oil sale widens split with Baghdad

    The split is growing between Iraq's central government and the Kurds after the autonomous Kurdish administration for the first time unilaterally sold oil from their region in ... 

  • UN: At least 1,075 killed in Iraq in June

    More than 1,000 people, the vast majority of them civilians, have been killed in Iraq this month as Sunni insurgents overtook key areas of the country, the United Nations said ... 

Find the best rates

Find your future job here