Airline to offer tickets to Iraq

PASSENGERS using the first direct flights from the UK to Iraq since the recent war will be able to buy Stansted to Baghdad return tickets from as little as £500, it was revealed last night.

By Roddy Ashworth

PASSENGERS using the first direct flights from the UK to Iraq since the recent war will be able to buy Stansted to Baghdad return tickets from as little as £500, it was revealed last night.

And Dhia Al-Ani , chairman of low-cost airline Air Scotland, said the price could drop to £250 if insurance premiums come down as conditions in the middle eastern state stabilise.

Mr Al-Ani said he thought there would be a huge demand for seats on the twice-weekly route when it begins services, which could happen as soon as November of this year.


You may also want to watch:


He said that not only were there around 250,000 Britons of Iraqi descent in the London area, but a further three million second generation Iraqis in Western Europe.

As well as those wanting to visit relatives and the land of their forefathers, Mr Al-Ani predicted a high demand from Government employees, construction workers, and military training personnel.

Most Read

Currently, there are no civilian flights available from Europe to Iraq. The last service was discontinued by British Airways in 1990.

Now, anybody wanting to fly there must either travel via Jordan, Oman or Dubai or as an official military passenger.

“The new Government has been elected now, with all the different sectors of the Iraqi population involved,” said Mr Al-Ani, who was himself born and brought up in Iraq.

“People are getting sick and tired of bombs and insurgents, and everybody is now working to put an end to it.

“There are a lot of indications that by November things will have calmed down and become a lot safer.

“Within the Baghdad Airport parameters there is no problem. Getting to the airport by road, however, is dangerous, because the US base is next to it and that is targeted by insurgents.

“But the airport is going to become more and more a civilian area. Flights from Dubai and Oman have been operating for six weeks and there have been no problems.”

Mr Al-Ani also said the business would not just be one way. “Many Iraqis have been waiting for any opportunity to travel,” he said.

“At the moment they have to travel on land by convoy for 12 hours.

“When the British Embassy opens properly to issue visas, there will be a lot of tourists.”

He added that prices would drop if there were no security difficulties for the flights.

“We expect prices to start at about £500-£600. The only reason it is more expensive than we would like is because of the insurance, but once it gets safer and the insurance premium drops we hope to be able to do it for about £250.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter