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Air Arabia adds first Iraq route to Abu Dhabi

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Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will strengthen connectivity between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iraq with the launch of new routes to the country’s capital, Baghdad, as well as services to Erbil, the most populous city in the Kurdistan region.

The new direct flight connects Abu Dhabi (AUH) with Baghdad (BGW) and Erbil (EBL) twice a week using the Airbus A320. Baghdad began operations on June 22 and Erbil on September 15. LCC will be the only carrier serving each flight segment. This is also the airline’s first scheduled flight to Iraq.

In the past, Abu Dhabi flew direct to both destinations, but currently there are no flights between Abu Dhabi and Iraq. However, Air Arabia, Abu Dhabi’s sister airline, flies from Sharjah (SHJ) to Baghdad, Erbil and Najaf (NJF).

Air Arabia chief executive Adel Al Ali said the Abu Dhabi expansion “reinforces our commitment to leisure and business travellers” and will boost inbound tourism to the UAE.

Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyzer shows that Etihad Airways was serving BGW and EBL until March 2015 and was flying to Basra (BSR) until March 2016. Since then, however, Iraq has not been featured on the airline’s network.

Iraqi Airways is also operating a weekly Abu Dhabi-Baghdad route between July and December 2021.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi began operations in July 2020 and currently serves 31 destinations in Abu Dhabi.

A total of 16 routes are currently operating between the UAE and Iraq, 13 of which originate from Dubai International Airport (DXB). Flydubai has a 34 percent market capacity share, Air Arabia 23.2 percent and Emirates 20.2 percent. Iraqi Airways and Fly Baghdad Airlines also offer UAE-Iraq routes, with 14.1% and 8.5% market shares respectively.

This article was originally published on aviation week.

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