British Airways to Resume Flights to Iraq

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British Airways (search) received permission Tuesday to resume flights to Iraq for the first time in more than 13 years, officials said.

The airline got the go-ahead from the U.S.-led administration in Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority (search), to start services to Basra (search), Iraq's second-largest city.

The airline said it plans to fly twice a week, via Kuwait, using a Boeing 777 (search) aircraft. British Airways and U.S. authorities will decide later when flights will resume.

"The security of our customers, staff and operation is absolutely paramount, and we will fly to Iraq only once we are confident that it is safe for us to do so," said BA safety and security director Geoff Want.

Alan Burnett, the airline's regional director for the Middle East and Africa, said: "We are delighted that we have been given the go ahead to start services to Iraq. Our priority is to establish flights to Basra as soon as we can, but we continue to look at the possibility of starting flights to Baghdad in the future."

He predicted that resumed air service connecting Iraq with Europe will be vital to rebuilding Iraq and its economy.

In 1927, British Airways' predecessor, operating under the name Imperial Airways, began flights to Basra in southern Iraq. Two years later, flights began to Baghdad, the capital.

BA flights were suspended in March 1987 during the Iran-Iraq war. Flights resumed in November 1988, but were suspended again in February 1990.