The Austrian Airlines Group will become the first European airline to be granted the right to operate scheduled services into Iraq. The airline says preparations are now well underway to fly to the city of Erbil in Northern Iraq from 9 March 2006. The service will operate twice a week during March and April, and three times a week from May onwards. The Austrian Airlines Group will fly its scheduled route to Erbil using an Airbus A319.ÊÊ
The city of Erbil in Kurdistan is a safe gateway into Iraq. With a population approaching one million people, Erbil is the fourth-largest city in Iraq, and the fastest-growing in the country. The United Nations Organisation plans to set up a support point for Iraq in Erbil. A range of renowned companies are currently active in the developing and expanding the regional economy of Kurdistan, while Erbil also provides rapid and safe overland access to the cities of Mosul, Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah. The integration of the new service to Erbil into Austrian’s global route network will open up numerous European and intercontinental connecting flights into Iraq via the company’s Vienna hub. Other than Austria, the most important source markets for flight revenue to the Iraqi region of Kurdistan include Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Great Britain, Eastern Europe and North America. As new ?Regional Manager Kurdistan/Iraq” Peter Katzlberger was appointed, who will be responsible for all sales, marketing and pricing strategy in Erbil in this function.
Austrian Management Board Member Dr. Josef E. Burger issued the following statement on the new destination in Iraq: ‘Erbil is truly a milestone in the development of the Austrian route network. Once again, it will allow us to underline our pioneering role and specialisation in the form of our Focus East programme of services to Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. With our flights to Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Syria and the United Arab Emirates, we are already the number three carrier in Europe when measured by services into the Middle East.Ê
Now, with Erbil in Iraq, we are creating a connection that is essential for the economic re-development of the country, particularly for international traffic, and taking full advantage of the traditionally strong relations between Austria and the Arabian region. Once again - just as in Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Sarajevo, Pristina, Krasnodar and elsewhere in the past - we have become the first western airline to open up an eastern destination of key importance.’