International flights to and from Kurdistan have supposedly resumed. The Iraqi central government has sent teams to both Kurdistan airports that will control flight schedules, according to a press release. KRG Minister of Interior Karim Sinjari, Iraqi Minister of Interior Qasim al-Araji, and Bestun Zangana who is the head of the Transportation Committee for Iraqi parliament, announced the re-opening this past week after a brief meeting.

Bestun Zanga stated upon the announcement, “There is some propaganda that the directors will be changed. None of these are true. The flights are open from now on based on a schedule from the Iraqi Ministry of Transportation. The technical sides from Sunday onward will come to the airports and start working under the [Iraqi] Civil Aviation Authority.”

Karim Sinjari said, “We welcome the Iraqi minister of interior and thank him for his efforts for reopening both the Sulaimani and Erbil airports. The reopening of the two airports is a good step towards resolving the issues between the governments of Baghdad and Erbil. All issues between Baghdad and Erbil should be resolved through dialogue and discussions and based on the Iraqi constitution.”

Qasim al-Araji continued with, “Today we came to Erbil to execute and implement the directions of Mr. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the official decree for reopening the Erbil and Sulaimani airports for international flights,” and, “Everyone agreed that the constitution is relevant criteria to resolve all disagreements. Everything is good and on the right path.”

The delegation officials later met the Kurdish Regional Government’s Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani of KDP political party. After the meet, a statement was released by Barzani’s office to the public saying, “They hoped that this step would pave the way for rejuvenating trust and be followed by sending salaries and resolving other issues,” and that both PM Barzani and Arajis had, “emphasized strengthening security cooperation and collaboration and exchange of information between the federal and Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Interior and other related apparatus for confronting terrorists and the threats posed by terrorism.”

Upon the day of opening, Barzani addressed Kurdistan by saying, “I would like to thank Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and all the other sides in the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Region to make it happen,” referencing Iraq’s current Prime Minister and leader. September 29, 2017 was the last time the airport was used to conduct international flights and the closure was seen as a harsh response from Abadi in light of Kurdistan holding an independence referendum.

Despite the airports reopening at an official capacity for international flights, so far all the flights to pass through the airport have been domestic. An American ex-pat, who did not want to be identified, approached local Kurdish media to inquire when international travel would actually continue. He confided that his colleagues and he have been “stuck” in Kurdistan for around a year at this point because they did not want to risk flying to and out of Baghdad’s or Turkey’s international airport.

Director of Erbil Airport, Talar Faiq, informed that, “Iraq’s aviation authority has issued a NOTAM [notice to airmen] for the resumption of international flights to Erbil and Sulaimani airports.” Bestun Zangana assured people, “The technical sides from Sunday onward will come to the airports and start working under the [Iraqi] Civil Aviation Authority.” While the Kurdish airports have re-opened on an official level, citizens and ex-patriots alike have yet to see the change implemented. While it is not immediately apparent the Iraqi central government has traditionally been slow to act and the bureaucracy that afflicts the region as a whole knows no bounds.

Feature Image Courtesy of Wikimedia