The Iraqi government on Friday suspended all international flights to and from the Kurdistan region, the BBC reported. The government’s decision comes in the wake of the Kurdish referendum, which saw 92% vote in favour of independence.
Baghdad said that only domestic flights would be allowed to operate from 6 pm local time on Friday (8.30 pm Indian Standard Time) unless the Kurds handed over control of the Erbil and Sulaimaniya airports. However, the Kurdistan Regional Government rejected the demand, saying these airports were needed for the fight against the Islamic State group.
But the chief of Erbil International Airport, Talar Faeq, told Kurdish media group Rudaw that the ban would not affect military aircraft flying into the region. Faeq also said that the airport was always under the supervision of Iraqi civil aviation, and complied with all instructions from Iraqi authorities. “We do not understand yet what are the things the airport has not implemented,” Faeq said, adding that civil aviation must not be dragged into political matters. “Why did this issue come out only now?”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on September 27 had said that he wanted the referendum to be declared invalid, as a prerequisite for dialogue. Kurd Transport Minister Mowlud Murad had turned down the demand.