Iraq: Resumption of Cargo Flights to Kurdistan
|July 23, 2014||Filled under Iraq Daily News|
Iraq Daily News -
International cargo flights are set to resume today into the Kurdistan Region, an Iraqi transportation official said, after Baghdad banned such flights earlier this month following Erbil’s announcement of plans for an independence referendum.
“This evening it was decided to allow the cargo planes to resume their flights from the Kurdistan Region’s airports,” Bengin Rekani, the deputy minister for Iraq‘s transportation ministry, said Monday. “The decision will be implemented from tomorrow,” he added.
The decision is expected to affect cargo flights from Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates operating from the autonomous Kurdistan Region’s two main airports, in the capital Erbil and the second-largest city Sulaimaini.
“We have not received any decision about the resumption of (cargo) flights and we are waiting for notification from Iraqi aviation authorities so that we can restart our flights,” said Erbil International Airport director, Talar Faiq.
The federal government also did not notify the two airports in Erbil and Sulaimani when it ordered a halt to the cargo flights. Officials said they knew about that decision through the airlines themselves.
Iraq’s central government has control over Kurdish airspace, and in December 2012 denied landing rights to a plane carrying the Turkish energy minister into Erbil.
Both Baghdad and Erbil have been carrying out tit-for-tat moves against each other, ever since a jihadi-led advance plunged the country into turmoil and the Kurds said they were ready to quit Iraq and announced plans for an independence referendum.
Since Iraq’s second-largest city Mosul fell to the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) militants last month, Kurdish leaders have raised their tone about an independent Kurdish state as a way of retaining the Kurdish enclave’s relative stability and prosperity compared to the rest of Iraq.
Baghdad has stopped the monthly payments from the national budget to Kurdistan for the last seven months, causing a crisis in Kurdistan’s largely cash-based economy.
Despite the upheaval and fears of the country splintering, Iraqi politicians have been unable to come up with a new government so far, leaving matters in the hands of a dithering caretaker administration headed by the Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
He insists on serving a third term, despite massive opposition by the Kurds and Sunnis. Last week the Sunnis elected a parliament speaker, but the Kurds still have not finalized their candidate for Iraqi president.
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