Iraq airports and skies safe, says minister

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Azzaman, August 7, 2014

Baghdad International Airport is safe for scheduled flights and international airlines have no reason to worry about security, Transport Minister Karim al-Nouri said.

Nouri said all Iraqi airports were functioning and open to flights both domestic and international apart from the one in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city which militants of the Islamic State (IS) occupied on June 10.

Nouri’s remarks come following reports that some international airlines were boycotting Iraqi airports and avoiding its airspace.

Germany’s Lufthansa and Australian carrier Qantas are reported to have suspended flights to Iraq and Royal Jordanian was said to have stopped flying for at least two days.

Other airlines like Air France-KLM, Delta, Emirates, United and Virgin Atlantic had said they had stopped flying through Iraqi airspace.

But Nouri said neither his ministry nor the Civilian Aviation Authority were officially informed of any carriers avoiding Iraqi airspace or no longer flying to airports in the country.

The head of the aviation authority Nasser al-Shibli said he had received no formal notification from any airline suspending flights.

He said Baghdad International Airport, the country’s largest and gateway to the outside world was secure and safe.

Iraqi authorities, he said, had taken all measures necessary to keep the airport functioning and removing the possibility of any threat to its operations.

He said the government was even employing drones to see to it that the airport would remain immune from violence.