Bmi is endeavouring to start a scheduled service between the UK and Bagdad. The carrier, which already operates a number of routes to the Middle East, has said it has met with Iraqi government officials to get the ball rolling.
The meeting took place as over 300 delegates with Iraqi business interests met at a forum in London attended by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Malikiand and Peter Mandleson, Secretary of State for Business and Enterprise, to discuss investment in Iraq.
Nigel Turner, chief executive officer of bmi also attended the conference. He said: “I have handed a letter to Iraq’s transport minister Amr Abduljabber Ismail and told him that we recognise the considerable efforts that are being made to get business and commerce between our two countries to develop and grow.”
“In order for those efforts to succeed normal transport links have to be in place. The ability to travel by air between Heathrow and Baghdad is vital in supporting the considerable energy that is going into bringing business ties and investment back to normality,” he added.
“Iraq is surrounded on four sides by countries that we already serve from Heathrow. We are carrying an ever increasing number of passengers who, at the moment, travel from Baghdad to Heathrow via our existing intermediate point of Amman. As trade and business ties grow we envisage that these numbers will grow.
“As the situation returns to normality we are seeing a small number of scheduled services from Baghdad being launched within the region. At the moment we are unable to commence services to Heathrow until the UK Government permits UK aircraft or British registered carriers to fly in and out of Iraq. Nevertheless, I have told Iraqi officials and business that subject to the required levels of operational integrity and safety being satisfactorily achieved and appropriate governmental approval, bmi is ready and willing to once again re-establish air links between Heathrow and Baghdad.”