Iraqi Airways back in Malaysia after 34 years

SEPANG - Iraqi Airways has returned to Malaysia after a 34-year lapse.

A Boeing 777-200 aircraft of the Iraqi national carrier landed at the KL International Airport yesterday, with plans to fly a million passengers a year between Baghdad and Kuala Lumpur.

Iraqi Airways commercial director Capt Badri Latif said the passenger load was encouraging for their first flight.

Iraqi Airways is the sixth airline to make maiden flights to Malaysia this year; the others being Thai Smile, Malindo Air, Turkish Airlines, Philippine Airlines and Air France.

The Iraqi carrier offers two flights weekly for the Baghdad-Kuala Lumpur route on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with each flight taking about eight-and-a-half-hours.

Earlier, Iraqi Transport Minister Hadi Al Amiri, in his speech, said his country was resuming communication with the rest of the world, adding: "After the (Iraq) war, we reconnected with our neighbour, Kuwait, in addition to Frankfurt, Mumbai, London and now, Kuala Lumpur."

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad said MAHB was looking forward to the resumption of services by other airlines, including British Airways.

MAHB recently announced that passengers at KLIA had increased 15.5 per cent to 22.29 million in the first six months of this year from 19.3 million in the same period last year.

Nationwide, the country's 39 airports took in 36.98 million passengers in the first-half of the year, compared to 32.56 million in the same period last year; which is an increase of 13.6 per cent.