Passengers check in for flights at Erbil International Airport on Wednesday. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Lufthansa Airlines will continue operating flights as usual out of Erbil despite a request from the Iraqi government to ban all international flights in and out of the Kurdistan Region.
"We assume that there are no impairments,” a spokesman from Lufthansa said on Wednesday, as reported by Deutsche Welle (DW).
Lufthansa, the German-based airline and largest carrier in Europe, operates one flight per week between Erbil and Frankfurt. The next scheduled flight, on Saturday, will take off as planned but the situation will be observed, the spokesperson said.
The flight ban is due to come into place Friday at 6 pm.
Another German-based airline, Germania has said they are monitoring the situation but haven’t cancelled any flights as of yet.
"We are continually monitoring the situation at the airports Erbil and Sulaimani," said a spokesperson for Germania. "If there are any developments that lead to a change in air traffic, we will immediately inform our passengers and sales partners."
The airline has flights from Erbil to and from Dusseldorf and Munich.
Austrian Wings, the first European airline to fly into Erbil in 2007, stated Thursday on their website that they will continue flights into Erbil as they have not received any official information from Iraqi aviation authorities regarding the flight ban. Lufthansa is a parent company of Austrian Wings.
Several airline carriers have already announced cancellation of flights per an order from the Iraqi government.
Turkish Airlines, AtlasGlobal, and Pegasus flights to Erbil and Sulaimani will end on Friday, the Turkish consulate stated on its website. Until the ban is in effect, the airlines will work to increase capacity on their flights, the statement added.
The Lebanese Middle East Airlines (MEA) announced they will comply with Iraq’s order and will increase their flights to Erbil until the ban comes into effect to ensure they do not leave behind any Lebanese citizen who wants to leave the Kurdistan Region, MEA head Mohamad A. El-Hout told Lebanon’s LBC media outlet.
Royal Jordanian also announced they will be halting all flights to Erbil and Sulaimani. The airline operates 10 weekly flights to Erbil and three weekly flights to Sulaimani.
Egypt's flag carrier EgyptAir will suspend flights to and from Erbil International Airport beginning on Friday, two company sources said.
Budget carrier FlyDubai has said it will suspend all flights to and from Erbil starting on Saturday.
Qatar Airways revealed on Thursday that they, too, will suspend their flights from Friday evening.
Iran suspended all flights to the Kurdistan Region on Sunday, one day before the referendum vote.
Domestic flights are not affected. Humanitarian and emergency flights will also not be affected provided they obtain prior approval from Baghdad.
The flight ban is just one of the moves Baghdad has taken against the Kurdistan Region in the wake of the independence referendum.
The US, while condemning Kurdistan’s independence referendum, said that moves by Baghdad like the flight ban are not constructive and urged Iraqi authorities to engage in discussion with Kurds.
Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani also condemned the flight ban.
“This is the collective punishment of the people of Kurdistan. What Abadi declared is the collective punishment of all the people of Kurdistan,” Barzani said on Monday, responding to Baghdad's measures to take control of Kurdistan's border points and airports.
Last updated at 8:21 pm