Empty Erbil airport after the flight ban came into effect Friday at 6pm. Photo: A.C. Robinson/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq will allow foreigners in the Kurdistan Region to transit through Baghdad despite not holding an Iraqi visa as Kurdistan’s airspace remains closed to international travel.
“Any person can leave the country via Baghdad without paying a fine or for an exit visa,” Interior Minister Qassem al-Araji told journalists, AFP reported on Monday.
Baghdad ordered international flights to Erbil and Sulaimani airports to cease as of Friday evening after Kurdish authorities refused to hand over control of the airports to federal authorities after 92.7 percent voted ‘yes’ for independence in last Monday’s referendum.
Baghdad does not recognize visas issued by Kurdistan Region authorities, meaning foreigners entering Kurdistan could not previously travel to other parts of Iraq.
Since Friday evening, when the last international flights departed Kurdistan Region, only domestic flights have passed in and out of Erbil and Sulaimani airports.