Etihad to begin regular flights into Baghdad

Abu Dhabi's national carrier, Etihad Airways, yesterday announced plans to launch weekly flights to war-ravaged Iraq starting from April 26.

"Etihad will operate five return services per week to Baghdad," operated by Airbus A320 aircraft, the company said in a statement. It is to add a second Iraqi destination, the Kurdish capital of Arbil in northern Iraq, from June 1.

The decision to make Etihad the first United Arab Emirates airline to fly to Baghdad is "subject to government and regulatory approvals," it said.

"We expect to see strong demand on these routes, particularly from government and business travellers, as well as people from Iraq visiting family and friends around the world," Etihad Airways chief executive James Hogan said.

Etihad launched a twice weekly cargo-only service from its hub at Abu Dhabi to Baghdad last September.