Kurdistan 24 – Direct flights between Tehran and Erbil officially resumed on Friday, six months after the Iraqi federal government imposed an international flight ban on the Kurdistan Region’s airport in retaliation to Sep. 25 independence referendum.
The first plane, part of the fleet of the privately-owned Iranian airline Mahan Air, arrived in Erbil International Airport (EIA) on Friday at 7:00 am local time and departed at 8:15, according to the airport website.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Abdullah Akreyi, head of relations between Iran and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), praised the role of Tehran in mediating between Erbil and Baghdad to remove the international flight ban on the Kurdistan Region’s airports that took place on Sep. 29 last year until last month.
Akreyi, who works in the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations (DFR), said that the resumption of flights between the two cities had been further delayed due to Newroz, a celebration of New Year observed by the people of the Kurdistan Region and Iran over a month ago.
“Iranian airline ‘Mahan’ resumed flights between Tehran and Erbil today, which was warmly welcomed by the people of Kurdistan because many of people here in Kurdistan need to travel to Iran for vacation, treatment, and visiting family members,” he said on Friday.
The Kurdish official noted that the resumption of flights is a positive step toward expanding economic relations between the Kurdistan Region and Iran and that talks are underway to include flights through Sulaimani’s airport, as well.
Iran was one of the first neighboring countries that closed official border crossings and air travel to the Kurdistan Region, shortly after the independence referendum.