Iraqi boy boards Iran-bound plane without ticket

Child intercepted after eluding several checks to board Iran Air chartered aircraft

Najaf International Airport receives hundreds of thousands of pilgrims a year. Reuters
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An Iraqi boy, 10, has left aviation authorities embarrassed after he boarded an Iran-bound plane on his own, despite several security checks at the busy airport.

The international airport in Najaf, south of Baghdad, said on Wednesday it would review security after the boy by-passed seven checks, AFP reported.

The boy was mixed in with large crowds of travellers, the report said.

He was only intercepted after boarding an Iran Air chartered aircraft, airport manager Hikmat Ahmed told AFP.

About five hours after his arrival at the airport on Monday night, "the plane crew contacted us about him", Mr Ahmed said.

"Anyone who failed in their duties will be sanctioned, fired or transferred" after an investigation, the official said.

A security source said his parents, who live in a district near the airport, had informed police of they boy's disappearance.

Iraq's civil aviation authority said a private company had since 2019 been in charge of security at Najaf airport, which receives hundreds of thousands of pilgrims a year.

"All legal procedures" would be taken against the company once the investigation has been completed, it said.

Millions of Iraqis have this week endured dust storms which have blanketed the country since April.

The government declared Monday a public holiday except for the health, security and services departments. The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority also decided to suspend all flights until further notice.

Iraqi capital again hit by sandstorms — in pictures

Flights had been resumed at all airports by Monday afternoon.

Iraq's Meteorological Authority said the country had been hit by an anticyclone coming from the eastern Mediterranean with wind speeds of between 40 and 50 kilometres per hour, lifting dust and sand from the vast expanses of desert in western and north-western parts of the country.

Updated: May 26, 2022, 5:03 AM