Iraqi Airways

Iraqi Airways
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1945
Commenced operations 28 January 1946
Operating bases
Fleet size 32
Destinations 38
Parent company Iraqi Government
Headquarters Baghdad, Iraq
Key people Miran Fareed (CEO)

Iraqi Airways Company, operating as Iraqi Airways[1] (Arabic: الخطوط الجوية العراقية al-Xuṭūṭ al-Jawwiyyah al-ʿIrāqiyyah), is the national carrier of Iraq, headquartered on the grounds of Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad.[2][3] It is the oldest airline in the Middle East. Iraqi Airways operates domestic and regional service. Its main base is Baghdad International Airport.[4]

Iraqi Airways is a member of the Arab Air Carriers Organization.


Early history

Iraqi Airways was founded in 1945 as a department of the Iraqi State Railways and started operating on 28 January 1946 using five De Havilland Dragon Rapides on a service to Syria. With the help of the British Overseas Airways Corporation the new airline ordered three Vickers Viking aircraft. While waiting for the Vikings to be delivered the airline leased four Douglas DC-3 aircraft from BOAC in December 1946. In 1947 it ordered the de Havilland Dove to replace the Dragon Rapides and the Doves were delivered in October 1947. The three new Vikings were delivered at the end of 1947 and the DC-3s were returned to BOAC, a fourth Viking was bought second-hand.

In 1953 the four-engined Vickers Viscount turboprop was chosen to replace the Vikings and an order for three was placed in July. The Viscounts entered service in 1955 and operated all of Iraqi Airways' international services including a new route to London with intermediate stops. On 1 April 1960 the airline became independent from the railway company and in 1961 it placed an order for two Boeing 720Bs for delivery in 1964, but the order for Boeings was later cancelled.

In the 1960s Iraqi Airways bought Russian Tupolev Tu-124 planes as well as Hawker Siddeley Trident aircraft. These jets allowed Iraqi Airways to increase service across the Middle East, to Africa and Europe. During that time, cargo aircraft such as the Ilyushin Il-76 were also purchased. During the 1970s, Iraqi Airways needed a bigger jet for a new route to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, purchasing the Boeing 707 and, soon after, the Boeing 747.

Later history

The United States banned Americans from traveling on Iraqi Airways after the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait. In addition the U.S. government accused the Iraqi Airways offices in the United States of being front companies for Saddam Hussein's government.[5] Since Iraq's invasion in 1990 of Kuwait, Iraqi Airways was grounded by the United Nations' sanctions against the country. Iraqi Airways had 17 jets, all of which were moved to secret locations, mainly in Jordan (some were parked on the aprons of Amman's Queen Alia International Airport. Two aircraft-a 747-200C and a 747SP-were flown to Tozeur–Nefta International Airport, Tunisia).

Attempts were made to restart domestic services in May 1991, and permission was granted by the UN for the operation of helicopters on limited domestic services. Fixed-wing flights were banned under the ceasefire terms, although the UN Security Council agreed to the resumption of domestic flights. These restarted in January 1992 from Baghdad to Basra using Antonov An-24 aircraft. Operations were suspended shortly after, following a UN ruling.[4]

However, domestic flights became a rarity too, because of the No-Fly Zone imposed by the United States and United Kingdom over Iraqi skies. On occasions, Iraqi Airways would also fly pilgrims to Muslim religious cities throughout the 1990s.


After the War in Iraq, on 30 May 2003, Iraqi Airways announced plans to resume international services. The rights to the Iraqi Airways name was transferred to a new and separate company called Iraqi Airways Company which would build a new airline and protect it from the legal problems related to the regime of Saddam Hussein. Operations restarted on 3 October 2004 with a flight between Baghdad and Amman.

Iraqi Airways operated the first domestic commercial scheduled service since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime from Baghdad to Basra, with 100 passengers in a Boeing 727-200, on 4 June 2005. On 6 November 2005, Iraqi Airways operated a flight from Baghdad to Tehran, Iran, for the first time in twenty-five years. The aircraft, as with the rest of the fleet, was operated on its behalf by Teebah Airlines of Jordan. Services to Erbil and Sulaymaniyah were added in summer 2005.

In June 2009, it was revealed that Iraqi Airways had struck a deal with British aviation authorities to resume direct from Baghdad to London Gatwick; the flights were supposed to begin on 8 August 2009 using a Boeing 737-400 leased from Tor Air and would eventually have seen the Airbus A320-200 operating the route. This did not happen as planned, however. The airline said at the time that they intended on a bigger expansion into the UK and Europe.[6]

During November 2009, Blue Wings, a German airline, began operating flights to Düsseldorf and Frankfurt, Germany on behalf of Iraqi Airways.[7]

On 25 April 2010, Iraqi Airways launched flights to Gatwick Airport via Malmö, Sweden. When the first flight landed at London, a Kuwaiti lawyer had the General Director Kifah Hassan's documents and passport seized, as well as the plane itself. There were no developments, however, as the plane was owned by the Swedish company Tor Air.[8] The plane returned to Baghdad. However, Kifah Hassan was not allowed to leave the United Kingdom and went up in court on 30 April.[9] Kuwaiti officials demanded £780 million for the planes stolen by Saddam Hussein in the 1990 invasion.[10]

On 26 May 2010, Amer Abdul-Jabbar, Iraq's transport minister, said the cabinet had decided on Tuesday to dissolve the company over the next three years and pursue private options to avoid asset claims made by Kuwait over their 1990–91 war.[11]

In February 2012, Iraqi Airways announced that it would resume flights to India, with services to Delhi or Mumbai from Baghdad.[12]

In April 2012, it was announced that Iraqi Airways had ordered 40 new Boeing aircraft, the order consisting of 30 737-800 and 10 787. The first aircraft would be delivered in December 2012.[13]

On 4 December 2012, Iraqi Airways took delivery of their first Airbus A330.[14]

On 14 August 2013, Iraqi Airways took delivery of their first Boeing 737-800 direct from Boeing Company.

In June 2014, Iraqi Airways suspended services to Mosul due to the capture of the city by ISIL.

On 5 August 2015, Iraqi Airways received a ban from flying in Swedish Airspace consequent to not meeting safety standards required to fly within the EU [15]

On 10 August 2015, an EU-wide ban was imposed on the airline, suspending all EU based flights from Iraqi Airways indefinitely.[16] However Iraqi Airways responded to reports of the ban, citing that the ban was more of a "temporary suspension" caused due to bureaucracy issues and that the matters would be resolved as a matter of urgency.[17][18] Since then, the airline resumed limited service to some EU destinations by wet-leasing services from Aerovista.[19] More recently, these flights have been operarated by AirExplore in a modified Iraqi Airways livery.

On 8 September 2015, Iraqi Airways received a loan of $2 billion from a US bank to finance the purchase of modern aircraft type Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.


In 2008 Iraqi Airways introduced a new blue colour livery, replacing the previous green shades associated with Saddam-era, the new scheme was applied to a single Bombardier CRJ only,[20] later on one other CRJ received the former green livery, apparently reverting to the previous look. However, in 2012 Iraqi Airways adopted a new green livery which is now being applied fleet-wide.[21]


In March 2009, Iraqi Airways began its first flights to Sweden in almost 19 years.[22]

In September 2009, the airline resumed flights to Bahrain[23] and Doha, Qatar.[24]

In October 2009, Iraqi Airways resumed flights to Karachi, Pakistan.[25] The airline also started seasonal (Hajj) flights to Jeddah. The airline also revealed it had applied for rights to fly to Malmö, Sweden.[26]

On 28 November 2009, Iraqi Airways commenced flights to Malmö, Sweden.[27]

On 27 February 2013, Iraqi Airways resumed flights to Kuwait. This comes after a 22-year hiatus.

On 5 March 2013, Iraqi Airways resumed flights to London with flights to Gatwick Airport after suspending service between the two countries. This comes after a 23-year hiatus.

In February 2017, after several years of planning, Iraqi Airways launched flights to Minsk, Belarus. Iraqi Ambassador Haidar Hadi began the process in 2015 and monitored it until the first flight took place in early 2017.

On 17 September 2017, Iraqi Airways landed in Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, Russia for the first time. This line was also opened by Ambassador Haidar Hadi and Transport Minister Kadhim Finjan Al Hammami was on the first flight.


Current fleet

The Iraqi Airways fleet consists of the following aircraft as of August 2017:[28][29]

Iraqi Airways Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Airbus A220-300 5 12 140 152 Deliveries scheduled for 2018[30]
Airbus A320-200 3 180 180
Airbus A321-200 2 220 220
Airbus A330-200 1 24 264 288
Boeing 737-700 1 12 125 137
Boeing 737-800 13 16 12 150 162
1 75 75 Operated for Government of Iraq
Boeing 747-400 2 74 338 412
Boeing 767-300ER 1 18 221 239
Boeing 777-200LR 1 14 350 364
Boeing 787-8 10 TBA
Bombardier CRJ-900LR 6 90 90
Total 31 31

Fleet development

In May 2008, the Iraqi government signed a $2.2 billion contract with Boeing for 30 Boeing 737-800s with an option for an additional 10. It was also working on a deal involving the order of ten Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft which would allow for long-range service.[31]

Another contract worth $398 million was signed for ten Bombardier CRJ-900ER aircraft with ten options.[32] The first CRJ-900ER was delivered in October 2008. This resulted in a lawsuit against Bombardier by Kuwait Airways. Kuwait claims to have won $1.2 billion in judgments against Iraqi Airways as a result of the Gulf War. The Canadian judge ruled that he did not have jurisdiction because the case involved a foreign government since the purchaser of the aircraft was the government of Iraq not Iraqi Airways.[33] The lawsuit by Kuwait Airways was settled in 2009 with Iraq agreeing to pay $300 million.[34]

In February 2010, the airline announced major fleet plans, including converting 10 of the 30 orders for the Boeing 737-800 to additional wide bodies as well as bringing the delivery date forward to September 2011; changing the 10 Boeing 787 Dreamliner orders to Boeing 777 aircraft.[35]

Retired fleet

Retired aircraft of Iraqi Airways
Aircraft Type Notes
Airbus A300B4-203 Operated for Govt. of Iraq
Airbus A300-600RF
Antonov An-12BP Cargo Aircraft
Antonov An-24
Boeing 707-320C
Boeing 720-051B[36]
Boeing 727-200 Some of the fleet were destroyed during the Iran–Iraq War
Boeing 737-200
Boeing 737-300
Boeing 737-400
Boeing 747-200C
Boeing 747-200F
Boeing 747SP Saddam Husein PrivateJet Stored in Tunisia
Boeing 757-200
Boeing 767-200
Ilyushin Il-76MD Cargo Aircraft
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10
Tupolev Tu-124V
Tupolev Tu-134
Lockheed L-1329 Jetstar
de Havilland Dove
de Havilland Dragon Rapide
Fokker 70
Hawker Siddeley HS-121 Trident 1E
Vickers VC.1 Viking
Vickers Viscount

Five Kuwait Airways Airbus A310-200s were seized in 1990 and re-registered in Iraq as part of Iraqi Airways, however these never flew.[37] The airline had also ordered five Airbus A310-300s in the late 1980s but war-related sanctions prevented their delivery.

Accidents and incidents

Iraqi Airways' last fatal incident occurred on 25 December 1986. The airline has had the following incidents, accidents and hijackings since it began operations in 1945:[38]

  • On 4 February 1955 de Havilland Dove YI-ABJ crashed following engine fire at Al-Mansuriya, Iraq.
  • On 10 October 1955, a Vickers 644 Viking 1B overran the runway at Baghdad and crashed into a ditch, where it caught fire. All nineteen passengers and crew survived, but the aircraft was written off.
  • On 19 March 1965, a Vickers 773 Viscount crashed into a row of lamp posts at Cairo after a flight from Baghdad. All passengers and crew survived, but the aircraft was written off.
  • On 17 April 1973, a Vickers 735 Viscount performed a belly landing at Mosul International Airport after fuel exhaustion. All 33 passengers and crew survived, but the aircraft was written off.
  • On 1 March 1975, a Boeing 737-200 flying from Mosul to Baghdad was hijacked by three hijackers. There was one death on board.
  • On 23 September 1980, an Ilyushin Il-76 cargo aircraft flying from Paris to Baghdad crashed whilst on approach to Saddam International Airport. It is believed the aircraft was shot down by Iranian fighter jets. It as also believed all crew members died.
  • On 24 September 1980, an Antonov An-24TV was reportedly destroyed whilst on the ground at Kirkuk Airport during heavy fighting.
  • On 22 April 1982, an Antonov An-24B crashed whilst on approach to an Iraqi airfield. The left wing hit the ground causing the aircraft to crash. It is believed all crew members died.
  • On 28 August 1982, the undercarriage of an Antonov An-24TV collapsed on take-off from Nasiriyah Airport. All on board survived but the aircraft was written off.
  • On 16 September 1984, Iraqi Airways Flight 123, a Boeing 737-200C flying from Larnaca to Baghdad was hijacked by three hijackers. The three hijackers were killed whilst the rest of the passengers and crew survived.
  • On 25 December 1986, Iraqi Airways Flight 163, a Boeing 737-200C flying from Baghdad to Amman experienced a hijack attempt whilst flying over Saudi Arabia. Four hijackers tried to enter the cockpit whilst flying at FL260. Two explosions went off, resulting in a crash near Arar, Saudi Arabia killing 63 of the 106 on board.
  • During the Gulf War, two Iraqi Airways Tupolev Tu-124Vs were destroyed by U.S. bombs.


  1. Arab Air Carriers Organization Archived 23 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. "Iraqi Airways Office in Baghdad Archived 28 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine.." Iraqi Airways. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  3. "Iraqi Airways Archived 18 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.." Arab Air Carriers Organization. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  4. 1 2 "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 3 April 2007. p. 94.
  5. "Iraqi 'fronts' listed." Associated Press at The Pittsburgh Press. Tuesday 2 April 1991. Volume 107, No. 279. A1. Retrieved from Google News Page 1 of 18; 20 May 2010.
  6. Iraqi Airways to relaunch London-Stansted Archived 28 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. (22 June 2009).
  7. Blue Wings is flying directly to Baghdad (German Only) Archived 23 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. Die Welt.
  8. Bumpy landing for Iraq's first flight Archived 25 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. (31 July 2008).
  9. Iraqi Airways maiden flight to London turns into nightmare.
  10. McElroy, Damien. (1 May 2010) First flight from Baghdad to London in 20 years ends in farce with plane impounded Archived 5 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine.. The Daily Telegraph.
  11. Iraq to dissolve Iraqi Airways – Middle East Archived 6 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine.. Al Jazeera English.
  12. Iraqi Airlines flight to land at Mumbai airport after 22 years – Mumbai – DNA Archived 19 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. (28 April 2012).
  13. Iraq to deliver Boeing jets by end of 2012 | Finance Archived 15 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine..
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 June 2016. Retrieved 2016-02-07..
  15. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 2015-08-05.
  16. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 June 2016. Retrieved 2015-08-12.
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 2015-08-17.
  20. Iraqi Airways CRJ-900 in the experimental new livery of 2008 Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. Iraqi Airways new livery on their first 737-800 Archived 4 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. Iraqi Airways to Sweden! Archived 3 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. (30 December 2008).
  23. Iraqi Airways resumes Bahrain Archived 3 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine.. (3 September 2009).
  24. Iraqi Airways resumes Doha. (11 September 2009).
  25. Scheduled flights between Najaf and Karachi to start next week Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine..
  26. Iraqi Airways applies for flights to Malmö, Sweden.
  27. Iraqi Airways to start Malmö, Sweden Archived 24 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine..
  28. "Global Airline Guide 2017 (Part One)". Airliner World (October 2017): 17.
  30. Gregory Polek (2 January 2014). "Bombardier Seals CSeries Deal with Iraqi Airways".
  31. Iraqi Airways signs contract worth $2.2 billion with Boeing Archived 12 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. (5 May 2008).
  32. Iraqi Airways signs contract worth $398 million with Bombardier Archived 13 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. (6 May 2008).
  33. Kuwait Airways files lawsuit against Bombardier Archived 13 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  34. Lawsuit is settled with Iraqi paying $300 million
  35. Iraqi Airways major fleet plans. (18 February 2010).
  37. "Kuwait Airways A310 listed as part of Iraqi fleet". Archived from the original on 15 August 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  38. Iraqi Airways incidents and accidents. (4 March 2012).


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