Iraq Airways drops Britain, Sweden flights

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Iraqi Airways has dropped its services to Britain and Sweden because of the "escalation" of a legal battle with Kuwait, the state-run carrier's chief said in a statement on Tuesday.

"We are sorry to announce to our fellow citizens, especially the communities living in Britain and Sweden, that Iraqi Airways will stop flying to these two countries because of difficult circumstances as a result of Kuwaiti escalation," Kifah Hassan Jabbar said.

Jabbar had his passport seized and the plane he arrived on impounded at London's Gatwick Airport on April 25 as a dispute with Kuwait Airways marred Iraqi Airways's first commercial flight from Baghdad to London in 20 years.

The 10-hour flight had arrived in London after stopping in Malmoe in Sweden carrying 30 foreign and Iraqi passengers on board, including Jabbar and Iraqi Transport Minister Amer Abduljabbar Ismail.

There have been no further flights.

Iraqi Airways had planned two flights a week, with the Baghdad-London leg stopping off in Malmoe, and the return trip going directly from the British capital to Baghdad.

Kuwait Airways says Iraqi Airways owes it 1.2 billion dollars, a dispute dating back to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. According to the emirate, 10 of its planes as well as aircraft parts were plundered after its airport was seized during the invasion.

Jabbar's passport was eventually returned and he was allowed to return home on May 6 after he complied with the court order to provide Kuwait Airways with an affidavit of Iraqi Airways's assets in Britain.

"We hope that our fellow citizens understand this decision," Jabbar said.

"Politicians have kept their mouths shut and decision makers have not stood up to face the consequences of the ex-regime, which has put us in this situation."

© 2010 AFP

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