Lebanon, Turkey Resume Baghdad Flights After Shooting Incident

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Thursday, January 29, 2015

Turkish Airlines and Lebanon's Middle East Airlines (MEA) resumed flights to Baghdad on Thursday after halting them earlier in the week when bullets hit a plane as it was landing in the Iraqi capital.

Samir Kubba, the head of Iraq's civil aviation authority, told Reuters a flight from Istanbul had landed and another from Beirut was expected shortly.

An MEA official and the Turkish Airlines website confirmed that both carriers, which provide daily flights to Baghdad, had resumed service.

At least seven airlines suspended flights to Baghdad following the shooting incident.

Dubai Aviation Corp, which includes carriers flydubai, Emirates Airlines, Sharjah's Air Arabia and Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, suspended flights in line with a directive from the United Arab Emirates' civil aviation authority.

A flydubai spokesman said its service would remain suspended until February 2, whilst an official at Air Arabia said he was not aware of any changes to the suspension. There was no immediate word from the other carriers.

A message on Qatar Airways' website on Thursday said service between Doha and Baghdad had been suspended until February 5 with resumption subject to daily review.

Iraqi Transport Minister Bayan Jabor said a plane operated by budget carrier flydubai was hit at an altitude of 600 meters (2,000 feet) by gunfire from what he said was likely a light machinegun.

Western airlines flying over Iraq have taken extra precautions in recent months for fear that jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group might acquire weapons able to hit cruising airliners.

Baghdad International Airport is located west of the capital, near the border with Anbar province, which is largely controlled by ISIS militants.

In November, two car bombs exploded near Baghdad’s airport area, killing three people and wounding 12 others in total.

One car bomb targeted a United Nations convoy near Baghdad’s heavily guarded airport, wounding five people.

The UN said at the time that a three-vehicle convoy was hit by an explosion on its way from the airport to Baghdad's highly-fortified Green Zone, where its headquarters are located. No UN personnel were killed or injured.

In January 2014, two rockets hit the Baghdad airport complex but did not cause any damage or casualties.

Attacks on Baghdad airport remain rare, and the authorities managing it often trumpet security at the facility, where passengers must pass through at least 14 checkpoints before boarding an international flight.

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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