BAGHDAD – A French airliner landed at Baghdad International Airport Sunday, becoming one of the first passenger planes to fly into the Iraqi capital direct from western Europe since the Gulf War and opening a potential new route to stronger international business ties.
The inaugural flight by France's Aigle Azur, which touched down shortly before 6 am local time, carried French officials and journalists and was largely ceremonial. The airline won't begin regularly scheduled passenger flights for another two to three months, but if successful, the flights would mark an important milestone in Iraq's economic development.
"It will also be a chance, a new chance for the development of business between France and Iraq but more globally, between Europe and Iraq," said France's top trade official, Anne-Marie Idrac, who was on board the flight.
Some carriers, such as Austrian Airlines, fly from western Europe to the Kurdish city of Irbil. Regional airlines such as the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, Bahrain's Gulf Air, the Beirut-based MEA airline and Turkish Airlines fly to the Iraqi capital.