Erbil, Baghdad reach preliminary accord on Kurdish airports
Kurdish and Iraqi delegates have agreed for the Kurdistan Region airports to come under Iraqi civil aviation authority, one of a list of recommendations to be presented to the Iraqi government for approval.
Hours-long meetings between high-level representatives of the KRG and Iraqi government in Erbil on Monday developed the recommendations to resolve issues between the two administrations, such as the international flight ban.
The international airports of Erbil and Sulaimani will come under “Iraqi Civil Aviation Law” and will follow all instructions and regulations released by the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA), read the minutes of the meetings obtained by Rudaw.
Under the agreement, the two airports will follow the directions of the ICAA with regard to inbound and outbound flights and will not allow “any airplane to land or take off without the approval of the Civil Aviation.”
The delegates proposed that the ICAA will assign permanent representatives from the air transport and air safety department to the airports. Erbil and Sulaimani airports will also follow the fee system introduced by Iraq in 2008 and will provide their monthly revenue data to the ICAA.
There will also be monthly meetings between the ICAA and the airport directors in order to ensure communication and resolve problems.
“A coordinator will be assigned from the Erbil and Sulaimani airports to facilitate communication with the Civil Aviation Authority,” the minutes explained, adding that the coordinator will have a permanent presence in the ICAA.
The two sides will present these recommendations to the Iraqi government for approval, the minutes read, adding that some of the teams present on Monday have yet to finish their work, and will file their reports with Baghdad when ready.
Earlier in the day, Rudaw sources had stated that the two sides reached an initial agreement to lift the ban on international flights to and from the Kurdistan Region, pending approval from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
The Secretary General of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, Mahdi al-Alaq, who headed the Iraqi delegation, told the Kurdish side that PM Abadi wants to “study the outstanding problems in a constructive way and based on the principles of the Iraqi constitution and the federal laws,” according to the minutes.
KRG’s Interior Minister Karim Sinjari, head of the Kurdish team, expressed his hope they could find solutions to all the problems that were discussed during the meetings that included five focused discussions on the issues of “security, borders, airports, customs, border entries, dams, and oil.”
Some of the solutions recommended need the approval of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, according to a statement from the Kurdish delegation released following their visit to Baghdad over the weekend.
The airports were already under ICAA regulation prior to the international flight ban. Director general of Erbil airport, Talar Faiq, told diplomats in the Kurdistan Region last October, “We have always been regulated by the ICAA, we have always been responsive to their requests – only three weeks ago a team from Baghdad came to look at the cargo operation.”
The new proposals agreed on Monday appear to increase ICAA direct oversight.