Exile Iraqi pilots join the newly formed Iraqi Airways

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By Shaymaa Adel

Azzaman, January 8, 2012

Iraq’s national carrier was one of the world’s safest and most efficient when U.N. trade sanctions prevented it from flying.

Its nearly two dozen planes that were flown to safety to neighboring Iran and Jordan as well as Tunisia were grounded without maintenance or repairs.

When the sanctions, imposed in 1990 for the country’s invasion of Kuwait, were removed after the overthrow of former President Saddam Hussein and his regime in 2003, the planes had fallen into disuse.

Iraqi Airways was built from scratch. New planes have entered service with scheduled flights to several Middle East and world capitals.

But the carrier has so far been relying on foreign pilots.

The pilots who flew Iraqi planes prior to sanctions had fled the country and many of them landed good jobs with foreign carriers.

However, many of them have dumped their “lucrative” jobs to join their country’s nascent airways, according to Majeed al-Ameri, Iraqi Airways deputy director-general.

Ameri said the company had written to the pilots asking them to return and “many of them have agreed to give up their positions and join the national carrier.

He said the company highly appreciated their decisions and would do everything in its power to make them happy.

Ameri said the company would give them “good salaries” higher than the wages they were receiving as well as perks and other privileges.