Emirates and flydubai expand their reach in Iraq

Dubai carriers launch more services to Iraq to meeting growing demand as country rebuilds itself.

Emirates Airline and the budget carrier flydubai are expanding their services to Iraq to tap demand for business travel between Dubai and the war-torn country as it rebuilds.

Emirates is increasing its capacity to Baghdad by 75 per cent with a daily service from next month, while flydubai's inaugural flight to Baghdad was on Tuesday. Flydubai will fly to Baghdad four times weekly.

"There is a significant demand for travel in and out of Baghdad, and this new daily service offers a significant boost to this strategically important route for Emirates," said Ahmed Khoory, the senior vice president at Emirates for the Gulf, the Middle East and Iran.

The flights to the Iraqi capital "will help to boost business and trade, and reinforce existing ties between the two countries", said Ghaith Al Ghaith, the chief executive of flydubai. The budget carrier already has flights to Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan. Flydubai service to Najafis scheduled to start on January 29.

"In particular, the UAE has a significant interest in promoting trade and investment with Iraq, as highlighted by the latest trade figures released by the Iraqi embassy," Emirates said.

"According to the Iraqi embassy, the volume of investments of UAE companies in Iraq reached US$3 billion [Dh11.02bn] by the end of 2010 and is expected to rise to $6bn in the coming years." As well as the Baghdad flights, Emirates operates a four-times-weekly service to Basra and has offices in Basra and Baghdad.

On Tuesday, Etihad became the only UAE carrier to operate flights to Tripoli, as it began a three-times-a-week service between the Libyan capital and Abu Dhabi.

On the same day, it was revealed that Etihad had cancelled six of its orders for 25 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. "While we will be reducing our firm orders, our 25 options and purchase rights for this fleet remain in place and will no doubt play a crucial role in the airline's growth," Etihad said. "Etihad Airways has a great deal of confidence in the A350 XWB programme and we are delighted we have been able to retain attractive delivery positions for the -1000 derivative."

Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at StrategicAero Research in London said "Boeing is capturing key orders from the GCC".

 

rbundhun@thenational.ae

Published: January 19, 2012 04:00 AM

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