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Iraqi Airways Resumes International Flights

September 19, 2004|From Associated Press

AMMAN, Jordan — Iraqi Airways resumed international flights Saturday for the first time in 14 years, with a plane taking off from neighboring Jordan for Baghdad and another leaving the Iraqi capital for Damascus, Syria.

The Iraqi Airways flight from Amman to Baghdad was the state airline's first international flight since sanctions were imposed on Saddam Hussein's regime in 1990.

"This is the start of regular flights by Iraqi Airways," said airline spokesman Raad Aghabi.

Iraqi Airways will fly once daily to Amman and Damascus; a flight to the United Arab Emirates will be added later, Aghabi said.

Round-trip airfare from Amman to Baghdad is $750, he said.

Insurgents have targeted some commercial and military flights over Baghdad, firing rockets at aircraft flying to and from the airport, which also is used by the U.S. military.

To avoid rockets, planes are forced to make sharp maneuvers while staying within a secure perimeter over the airport. Last year, a DHL plane landed at the airport with a wing on fire from a rocket attack.

U.S. troops and their supply convoys using the road from the Iraqi capital to the airport come under almost daily attack.

A pair of suicide bombers struck the road Saturday, killing two U.S. troops and wounding 11 in two separate attacks that appeared to have been coordinated.

Iraqi Airways' commercial manager, Majid Wadi, said the company was planning to bring back planes that have been grounded in Jordan, Tunisia and Iran. He did not say how many Iraqi Airways planes were in the three countries.

The airline is working to renovate its fleet by buying five Airbus aircraft and training Iraqi pilots in other Arab countries, including Jordan, officials said.

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