The maiden flight of Iraqi Airways touched down at London Gatwick Airport on Sunday, April 25, marking the first time an England-bound plane had set off from Baghdad airport in twenty years.
While flights are expected to trickle in, about two per week for now, the move is a historical one and represents a major change for travelers used to having to make circuitous trips because of sanctions in place since 1991, reports CNN.com. Round trip tickets will be about $900 for coach and roughly $2,000 for first class seating.
These are not the first flights out of Baghdad airport since U.S. military action began in 2003, however. Flights to Tehran, Dubai and Lebanon routinely take regional businessmen and politicians to destinations in the Mideast.
Even with a three-hour layover in Sweden for security purposes, many are hopeful that the resumption of air travel from wartorn areas in the Middle East to Europe will help to normalize some regions. It was part of the impetus for Safi Airlines to begin operating a route between Kabul, Afghanistan and Frankfurt.
Travelers may not immediately take advantage of the flights because of concerns about safety in certain areas of Baghdad, including Sadr City. However, some politicians in Iraq and Afghanistan have moved their extended family to the United Kingdom for safety reasons and the move will make it easier to visit.