UAE airlines cancel Baghdad flights after missile strikes

DUBAI (AFP) – UAE carriers Emirates Airline and low-cost Flydubai said yestesrday they had cancelled flights to Baghdad for “operational reasons” after Iran fired ballistic missiles on bases housing United States (US) troops.

“Emirates flights EK 943 from Dubai to Baghdad and flight EK 944 from Baghdad to Dubai on January 8 have been cancelled for operational reasons,” Emirates Airline said in a statement.

“We are carefully monitoring the developments and are in close contact with the relevant government authorities with regards to our flight operations, and will make further operational changes if required,” said the Middle East region’s largest carrier.

Iran yesterday fired 22 missiles at two bases in Iraq housing US troops in retaliation for the killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike. Dubai’s budget carrier Flydubai also said it had cancelled its scheduled flight to Baghdad yesterday but operated other flights to Basra and Najaf.

“We are liaising with the relevant authorities and continue to monitor the situation closely,” the airline said.

There was no word immediately from other Gulf airlines on their flights to Iraq but some of them have continued to accept bookings to various Iraqi cities. Bahrain’s Gulf Air last Friday suspended flights to and from Baghdad and Shiite holy city of Najaf until further notice.

Kuwait Airways said on Twitter on Monday that its flights to Najaf, the only route it operates to Iraq, had been suspended for four weeks following the outbreak of violent protests for “safety” reasons.

In this file photo, an Emirates plane taxis to a gate at Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. PHOTO: AP