(AFP, BAGHDAD) - Baghdad's international airport is undergoing a facelift in preparation for the resumption of flights after 10-year-old sanctions against Iraq are lifted, a transport ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
"Repairs are currently underway at Baghdad's Saddam International Airport to return it to working order and modernise it so it can handle the resumption of air traffic halted since the Gulf War," the spokesman told Al-Rafidain newspaper.
National carrier Iraqi Airways "was examining ways of offering better services to air companies that used the airport" after its reopening, he said.
Iraqi Airways, which has been grounded since the sanctions were imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, last month sent pilots and technicians to Malaysia and Jordan to train on planes 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.
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, are stranded in Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Libya and Tunisia.
According to the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz is set to tackle the resumption of flights with Russian officials during an official visit to Moscow beginning on Tuesday.
Moscow is studying the possibility of resuming flights to Iraq "by the end of the year" as part of a series of measures to lessen the effects of the embargo, in exchange for a commitment from Baghdad to implement UN Security Council resolutions, the paper said
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )