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Europe

Paris-Baghdad flights resume after 20 years

On Sunday, the first direct European flight in two decades to Baghdad landed in the Iraqi capital. France's Aigle Azur airlines carried business leaders eager to boost once-strong ties.

an airplane

Aigle Azur plans to start regular Paris-Baghdad service in January

A French plane landed in Baghdad on Sunday, marking the first trip by a European airline since a 1990 international embargo on Iraq.

The flight, operated by France's Aigle Azur, left Charles de Gaulle airport carrying France's Trade Minister Anne-Marie Idrac and over 100 other passengers, officials said.

“This is an historic event because this is the first scheduled direct service by a European airline between a Western capital and Baghdad for 20 years,” France’s ambassador to Iraq, Boris Boillon, said before Sunday’s flight.

French national carrier Air France had previously operated flights between the two capitals but suspended the route after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.

It is hoped the resumed flights will boost the traditionally strong business tied between France and Iraq.

New choices

Aigle Azur plans to offer two flights a week from Charles de Gaulle beginning in early 2011.

If successful, the Baghdad-Paris route would be the first to connect Western Europe to the Iraqi capital. Currently passengers from Western Europe must fly to the Kurdish city of Irbil, or connect to one of the regional carriers that fly to Baghdad.

The flight coincided with the announcement from the private Iraqi firm Al-Nasr that it will begin the first Baghdad-London flights next week.

Author: Sarah Harman (afp, AP)
Editor: Kyle James

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