10/03/2004: Iraqi Airways Restarts Operations

10/03/2004: Iraqi Airways Restarts Operations

DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Iraqi Airways (IA) recommenced scheduled international operations with a flight between Baghdad and Amman in 2004. This followed the grounding of the airline following the Iraq war.

A new company was established to build the new airline and distance itself away from Saddam Hussein’s regime. Today, the carrier operates an extensive network across Europe and the Middle East.

Its fleet includes the Airbus A320/A321/A330 and there are outstanding orders for 16 Boeing 737-8s and four Airbus A220-300s.

Iraqi Airways YI-ASV Boeing 737-800. Photo: Pablo Gonzalez/Airways


Iraqi Airways was founded in 1945 and is one of the oldest airlines in the Middle East. Operations commenced on January 28, 1946.

Five Dragon Rapides were later supplemented by Vickers Viscounts from 1955. The airline entered the jet age in the 1960s with the arrival of the Tupolev TU-124 and Hawker Siddeley Trident.

The 1970s were a boom time for IA. New York (JFK) was added to the network operated by a recently purchased Boeing 707. The service proved so popular that a larger aircraft was required and the Boeing 747 was added.

Iraqi Airways Vickers Viscount 735 at East Midlands Airport in 1978. Photo: Uli Elch – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

First Grounding

However, the rise of Saddam Hussein saw the downfall of the airline. In 1991 sanctions were imposed by the United Nations against Iraq which led to the carriers grounding.

Limited domestic flights restarted in January 1992 from Baghdad to Basra using the Russian-built Antonov An-24. Because of the no-fly zone imposed by the US and UK over Iraqi airspace, even these became a rarity.

Featured image: Iraki Airways Boeing 737 at MUC. Photo: Iraqi Airways YI-ARA Airbus A320. Photo; Alberto Cucini/Airways

European Deputy Editor
Writer, aviation fanatic, and Airways European Deputy Editor, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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