Qatar Airways prepares Basra flight

As airlines consider the next move with regard to Iraqi flights, Qatar’s national carrier announces plans to begin commercial flights to the southern port of Basra.

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By  John Irish Published  June 5, 2003

The Doha-based airline is set to begin operating commercial flights to Basra from June 10, in what could be the first step to resuming a comprehensive regional and international service to Iraq.

Flight QR476 will initially deliver essential supplies and medicines to Iraq before establishing a regular Doha-Basra twice-weekly service on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Qatar Airways’ CEO, Akbar Al Baker, who will take to the skies on the inaugural flight between the two countries, said that he was hopeful of restoring historical and commercial links between the states.

“We initially expect the flights to Basra will serve the international aid community,” he said.

“In time we plan to establish services for the people of Basra and Baghdad with our premium product, which has made Qatar Airways one of the fastest growing airlines in the world,” said Al Baker.

The airline is the first in twelve years to operate a regular commercial service to Iraq, although it will not be the first to land in the country since the conflict in Iraq abated.

On May 03, Virgin Airways resumed international air flights to the former Baathist state. It had last flown to Iraq in 1990, when it operated several aid flights as well as the only hostage release flight from Baghdad. Speaking on delivery of 60 tons of humanitarian aid supplies to Basra International Airport, Richard Branson, Virgin Airway’s chairman was quick to highlight the importance of restoring an efficient air transportation service to and from Iraq.

“Good aviation links will be essential for the transportation of aid relief, supplies, workers and the military. Ultimately this will lead to the resumption of trade links, the rebuilding of the Iraqi economy and government and, above all, in helping to reunite Iraqi people with friends and families across the world,” said Branson.

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