Gulf Air plans to start A320 services to two Iraqi cities

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Middle Eastern carrier Gulf Air is planning to open services to Iraq as early as September this year, following a governmental agreement between Iraq and Bahrain.

Gulf Air intends to operate Airbus A320 services to Baghdad initially, and then extend its reach to Najaf.

The carrier says the decision follows a 9 July pact allowing airlines to operate between Bahrain and four Iraqi cities.

Gulf Air says the agreement authorises seven flights per week to Baghdad and 12 to Najaf, although the carrier says it will only open a Najaf connection once suitable infrastructure is in place at the airport.

"Commencement of our services to Iraq is still subject to Gulf Air safety audits which are currently taking place," says the airline's executive chairman Talal Al Zain.

But he adds: "There is clearly a demand for a direct service from Bahrain to Iraq and...we are excited about the prospect of adding Iraq to the list of countries we serve."