Saudi airline to offer first flights to Iraq in 27 years

#Diplomacy

There have been no flights between Saudi Arabia and Iraq since former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990

Model Flynas airplane at ceremony for deal between Airbus and airline in Riyadh in January (Reuters)
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Thursday 12 October 2017 4:14 UTC
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Saudi Arabian budget airline Flynas said on Wednesday it would start flying to Iraq, the first Saudi airline to offer that route in 27 years.

The airline said in a statement on its website it would start flights to several Iraqi cities in a few weeks.

There have been no flights between Saudi Arabia and Iraq since former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded neighbouring Kuwait in 1990.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are both wooing their northern neighbour in an effort to halt the growing regional influence of arch-foe Iran.

Flynas, which launched as Nas Air in 2007 and first turned a profit in 2015, is facing increasing competition in Saudi Arabia, its primary market.

That announcement had followed a decision by the Saudi cabinet on Monday to establish a joint trade commission with Iraq.

Gulf countries have hosted influential Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for talks with their crown princes over the summer, rare visits after years of troubled relations.

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Sadr's office said the cleric’s meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman resulted in an agreement for Saudi Arabia to donate $10m in aid to the Iraqi government and study possible investments in Shia regions of southern Iraq.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir visited Baghdad in February, and the two countries announced in June they would set up a coordination council to upgrade ties.