Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has confirmed it will launch flights to Basra in southern Iraq from mid-April.
Basra becomes the 84th destination in the carrier’s global network and the third city it flies to in Iraq.
Etihad – considered the World’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards already operates services to the capital, Baghdad, and Erbil, in the country’s north.
“Iraq’s surging economy represents a good opportunity to add even greater depth to our schedule,” Etihad Airways chief executive, James Hogan, said earlier.
“Basra is an important industrial and transport hub but currently has only limited access to air services and we are delighted to be able to help improve these by investing in the local community.”
The new Airbus A320 service, with 16 Pearl Business class seats and 120 seats in Coral Economy class, will operate four times a week from April 15th.
The schedule provides both morning and afternoon departures between Abu Dhabi and Basra on the first two and last two days of the working week and has been custom designed to suit expected traffic flows.
Oil and gas represent the backbone of the local economy and major companies rotating staff in and out of Basra have already expressed strong interest in the new flights.
These will also provide seamless connectivity over Abu Dhabi for Etihad Airways flights to Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and Australia.
Etihad Airways began flying to Iraq when it launched a daily service to Baghdad in late April 2010, with Erbil added to the network five weeks later.
Last year more than 100,000 passengers were carried between Abu Dhabi and these two cities, with the Baghdad route enjoying strong growth.