Baghdad Airport to Reopen Thursday Despite Embargo
Baghdad's international airport will officially reopen Thursday, 10 years after it was closed because of sanctions imposed on Iraq following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, government sources said Wednesday.
But the only business the airport will have for the foreseeable future is likely to be limited to the arrival of private flights from abroad, which are not specifically banned by the embargo.
There is still an embargo on commercial flights.
Iraq's transport ministry said on July 25th that repairs were underway at Baghdad's Saddam International Airport to modernize it to handle the eventual resumption of air traffic halted since the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait.
Iraqi Airways, grounded since 1990, has been sending pilots and technicians to Malaysia and Jordan to train on plane built by the European consortium Airbus.
Airbus has pledged to deliver the planes the company ordered in 1989 after sanctions are lifted, according to Baghdad.
Russia is studying the possibility of resuming flights to Iraq "by the end of the year" in exchange for a commitment from Baghdad to implement UN Security Council resolutions.
Iraq, backed by France, argues that non-commercial passenger flights to and from Iraq are not specifically banned under the decade-old embargo.
Iraqi Airways' fleet of some 30 planes, meanwhile, is stranded in Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Libya and Tunisia.
Around 150 French celebrities are due to make a dramatic call for the end to sanctions by breaking the air embargo over the country with a Paris-Baghdad flight on September 29th.
In April, an Italian pilot flew a sanctions-busting mercy flight to Iraq with two other Italians and a French priest in a gesture of solidarity with the Iraqi people.
Several planes have landed in Iraq since 1990, but the Italian flight was the first international one without UN authorization.
Iraqi planes transporting Muslim pilgrims to Mecca broke the embargo in 1999, but the United Nations soon after authorized the flights - BAGHDAD (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)