Baghdad bans cargo flights to Kurdistan

The reported move by Baghdad comes as relations between autonomous Kurds and Shiite government in Baghdad worsens.

Kurdistan airports

Airlines have been ordered by Baghdad to stop cargo flights into the Kurdistan Region, Kurdish airport officials said while Baghdad denies any such decision.

The directors of Kurdistan’s two main airports, in the capital Erbil and the second-largest city Sulaimani, said there had been no official word from Baghdad, but that airlines operating cargo flights had reported the stoppage.

Iraq’s central government has control over Kurdish airspace, and in December 2012 denied landing rights to a plane carrying the Turkish energy minister into Erbil.

Hadi Al-Amiri, the Iraqi transportation minister, denied any decision to stop flights to airports in Erbil and Sulaimani.  “This is baseless and lies; no decision about stopping any flights to these two airports has been made,” he told Rudaw.

Kurdish officials told Rudaw that cargo flights from Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar had stopped operating into Erbil and Sulaimani.

Erbil International Airport director, Talar Faiq, told Rudaw that “Baghdad has not officially informed us about stopping cargo flights.” But he said airlines were not operating cargo flights into the two airports on Thursday.

Tahir Abdulla, director of Sulaimani international Airport, confirmed the flight stoppage. “Officially we haven’t been informed about this,” he said. “But we have talked with Turkish and Qatar airlines, and they say they have been informed by Baghdad that the cargo flights into Erbil and Sulaimani have been stopped. They were not given a reason.”