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BA eyes potential in the Iraqi market - CEO

British carrier sees demand in Iraq but plans are 'under review'.
British airways, NEWS, Aviation

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British Airways is still considering plans to introduce services to Iraq, despite that fact that it has seen growing demand for it to enter the market and several carriers have already introduced routes, the carrier’s CEO Willie Walsh said.

“[Iraq] is clearly a market we are watching with great interest. A number of carriers are starting to fly to Iraq and clearly it is an area we have served in the past and we would look to serve again in the future but there are no plans at this stage,” Walsh told reporters in media conference call on Monday.

“Iraq is a destination [where] we have seen some demand and we believe that there is a potential in that particular market from both a passenger and a cargo point of view. It is one of the destinations we are keeping under review,” he added.

UAE national carrier Etihad Airways said in June it had started non-stop flights from Abu Dhabi to Erbil, becoming the first UAE carrier to operate to Erbil in northern Iraq, and on July 16 Dubai’s low-cost carrier flydubai began flights to the Iraqi city.

In May, Lufthansa, Europe’s second-biggest carrier, said it will restart regular service to Baghdad, the first of the western European and US carriers to resume flights to the Iraqi capital. The German airline will serve Baghdad from Munich beginning September 30, following a 20-year break, and will operate four flights a week.

Abu Dhabi-based luxury private jet operator Royal Jet operates flights to Baghdad and has reported a healthy market in the transport of oil executives to the Iraqi capital. While Air France/KLM, like BA, are still considering entering the Iraqi market, Austrian Airlines is planning to start offering scheduled flights from Vienna to Baghdad from October 31.

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