Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines to halt flights to and from KRG as of Friday
EgyptAir to suspend flights to and from Erbil in north Iraq from Friday as per Iraqi government request
Turkish airline Pegasus announced on Wednesday it would immediately suspend flights into Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, after an independence referendum on Monday, according to local media reports.
Lebanese carrier MEA and Egypt’s flag carrier EgyptAir also announced they would suspend flights from Friday.
“For now, we’re stopping. The last flight is on the 29th, until they solve the issue,” MEA chairman Mohammad al-Hout told Reuters on Wednesday.
Two company sources from EgyptAir confirmed the decision.
The moves come after the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority sent a notice to foreign airline companies telling them that international flights to Erbil and Sulaimaniya will be suspended at 1500 GMT and that only domestic flights will be allowed.
The Iraqi government gave the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) three days to hand over control of its airports in order to avoid an international air embargo, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday evening, according to state TV.
Baghdad last week asked foreign countries to stop direct flights to the international airports of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, in Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) territory, but only Iran declared such an air embargo, halting direct flights to Kurdistan.
Turkey’s border remains open, for now, minister says
Turkey’s border with northern Iraq remains open, although that does not mean it will remain open, the Turkish customs minister said on Wednesday, adding the number of trucks passing through the border had decreased.
Bulent Tufenkci, who was speaking on live television, also said he did not believe that the developments in northern Iraq would have a big impact on Turkish trade.
President Tayyip Erdogan has said Iraqi Kurds would go hungry if his country halts the flow of trucks and oil across the border, warning that Turkey could take military and economic measures against its neighbour after the 25 September referendum on Kurdish independence.