Iraqi Transport Minister Ahmad Murtada has demanded that Amman hand over six of its commercial airliners, which have been grounded in Jordan since the 1991 Gulf War, AFP said on Saturday.
“Iraq demands the restoration of the planes, which have been stationed in Jordanian airports for more than 10 years,” Murtada said in a meeting in the Iraqi capital with his Jordanian counterpart, Nader Dahabi, quoted by the official Iraqi News Agency, INA.
In 2000, Jordan agreed in principle to help Iraqi airways rehabilitate and maintain six of its aircraft grounded in Amman since 1991.
That agreement was reached on the sidelines of the Jordanian-Iraqi Higher Committee meeting which convened in Baghdad.
The six planes, all US-made, are no longer airworthy and require overhauls and engine replacement, according to Jordanian aviation officials. They include four Boeing 727s and two 707s, plus one cargo aircraft.
Iraq has been seeking to retrieve the bulk of its fleet from other Arab countries and Iran. Nearly 30 Iraqi aircraft have been stranded in Iran since the Gulf war, while the presidential Boeing 747 is sitting in Tunis along with other aircraft.
Iraq sent its airplanes abroad to avoid their destruction during the 1991 conflict which saw a US-led coalition oust Iraqi troops from Kuwait after seven months of occupation.
“The presence of these planes in Jordan requires enormous maintenance spending,” Murtada said, adding that “there was no UN Security Council decision allowing to seize the aircraft.”
Last November, then information minister Taleb Rifai said Jordan was ready to hand the planes over and that “the only obstacle was a technical one,” according to the Jordan Times.
An official had estimated the cost of the necessary technical upgrading at around $14 million, prompting Jordan to demand an agreement with Baghdad prior to the hand-over of the planes.
Dahabi arrived in Baghdad on Friday night with four other ministers on a visit designed to boost trade ties between Iraq and Jordan, said the paper – Albawaba.com
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