US lifts embargo on flights to iraq

The U.S. Department of Transportation has lifted its prohibition on air service between the United States and Iraq. The embargo had been in place since the first Gulf War.

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By  Neil Denslow Published  June 2, 2003

The U.S. Department of Transportation has lifted its prohibition on air service between the United States and Iraq. The embargo had been in place since the first Gulf War.

The DOT issued an order on August 8, 1990, preventing US and foreign carriers from selling in America air transportation that included a stop in Iraq. It also barred all carriers from engaging in air transportation to or from the United States with an aircraft of Iraqi registry. The order followed an executive order that imposed economic sanctions in Iraq.

Last week, however, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control announced that it had issued a general license authorising most of the formerly prohibited transactions with Iraq, including those relating to aviation.

“This is a necessary step, albeit intermediate, in the process of re-establishing commercial air service to Iraq,” says U.S. secretary of transportation, Norman Mineta. “We are working closely with Ambassador Bremer in order to help Iraq to quickly reopen a safe and secure aviation link with the rest of the world.”

The DOT’s order lifts the restrictions imposed in 1990, bit it does not authorise a direct US-Iraq air service. This possibility is still under review by the department.

It is likely that the first carrier to make use of the lifted restrictions will be Northwest, which has already signalled its intention to set up a US-Amsterdam-Iraq service in cooperation with its partner KLM.

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