DOHA: Qatar Airways is cancelling flights to Kurdish northern Iraq from Sept 29 to Oct 1 at the request of Iraq´s Civil Aviation Authority, the carrier said on its website on Thursday.
The flights to and from Erbil and Sulaymaniyah have been cancelled after Iraqi authorities said all international air traffic would be suspended from Friday to those airports, the statement said.
Lebanon´s and Egypt´s national carriers also said earlier they will halt flights to the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital Arbil this week at the request of the Baghdad authorities.
Their decision comes after Iraq´s government threatened to ban international flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan after the region held an independence referendum on Monday.
Lebanon´s Middle East Airlines and EgyptAir both said their flights to and from Arbil would be affected.
MEA chairman Mohammed al-Hout confirmed “the suspension of all flights to and from Arbil from Friday, upon the request of the Iraqi aviation authorities for the halt of all international fights to and from the airport.”
In a statement, EgyptAir also said its flights would halt from Friday “until further notice.”
The transport minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Mawloud Bawah Murad, expressed bafflement at the move by Baghdad.
“Arbil and Sulaimaniyah airports were built from the budget of the Kurdistan government,” he told a press conference in Arbil.
“We want more clarifications from the Iraqi government on its demand to hand them the two airports, because we don´t understand how to give them the two airports, when they are already subject to the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority.”
Baghdad has reacted with anger to Monday´s Kurdish independence vote, saying there would be no negotiations on wider autonomy for the Kurds in its wake.