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One set of Brits leave Iraq – another set plan to go in

May 1st, 2009 · No Comments · Politics, Travel

The British military planes are leaving Iraq for the last time. But another fleet of British planes could be on their way in – carrying paying passengers.

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British airline BMI wants to operate the first direct flights from London to Baghdad since the 1980s. British Airways stopped flying there during the Iran-Iraq war.

BMI is aiming to land in Baghdad this time next year. It would involve a stopover in Amman, or possibly Damascus. 

But there are plenty of hurdles for the airline to overcome. The British government does not allow any UK registered airline, or aeroplane to fly into Iraq. It also does not allow direct flights from the UK to Iraq.

Even if BMI puts pressure on the Foreign Office to change those rules, there is the security situation. Until recently, planes were forced to fly in a corkscrew coming straight down on to the runway in Baghdad – to avoid being hit by militants as the plane descends over the Iraqi countryside.

And how would the crew feel about staying the night in a war zone. BMI cabin crew member Holly seems quite excited, but could they be fired if they refused to work on that service?

Airline experts suggest there could be enough demand for two flights a day – stopping in Beirut or Damascus. Britain has around 300,000 Iraqi exiles – and there is a huge amount of UK and Iraqi government traffic, plus cargo.

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