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News and Notices
Writer Web Admin Date 18/12/2017
Title 79 days and counting - air blockade takes its toll
Content The forced closure of airspace over Kurdistan and the blockade of international airlines passed the 79th day on Sunday, 17th December, Kurdistan Flag Day.
During that time more than 1500 flights have been cancelled and passenger numbers travelling through Erbil Airport have plunged.

In October passenger numbers fell by 72% - to 44,504, compared to 159,237 in 2016. In November, passenger numbers fell by 64% - to 47,384 compared to 129,793 in 2016. Cargo tonnage has all but disappeared during the same period, with monthly averages of 2,500 tonnes plunging to less than 10 tonnes.

Despite having a near monopoly on flights, Iraqi Airways, have not escaped, with their passenger numbers falling by 29% in October 2017.

Speaking at an airport ceremony to mark flag day, Airport Director, Talar Faiq said :
" The blockade of airports at Erbil and Sullimanyah is an afront to the people of the region, who, it seems, are being punished for daring to express their opinion on Baghdad and its style of governance.

The continued closure is a real manifestation of the politics of partition that Prime Minister Abadi and is cabal of advisers seem intent on pursuing. On December 29th the notice to airlines advising of the airspace closure is due to expire. We would hope that if Iraq's esteemed Prime Minister has any intent to build bridges with the region that there will be no extension of the blockade.

At this airport, and at Sullimanyah, we are no strangers to federal supervision. Indeed, we welcomed inspections across many aspects of airport operation. To date, the office of the Prime Minister in Baghdad have failed to explain the blockade or share their definition of what 'handing over' means.

The closure continues to inflict real economic hardship, putting companies and jobs at risk. For a Government that claims to have the well being of all its citizens in mind the Baghdad inspired blockade is a clear manifestation of discrimination against the people of Kurdistan, who, when I last checked also happen to be citizens of Iraq.

Seeking to unite a country and bring together Iraq's different components cannot be acheived by the policies of partition and punishment."

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