Iraqi Airways poised to order two 777s, firm 787 options

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Iraqi Airways expects to place an order for two additional Boeing 777-200LRs as well as firming up its five options for the 787-8, director general Saad Al-Khafaji tells Flightglobal.

The Iraqi flag carrier has begun rapidly expanding its fleet following the resolution of its two-decade-long dispute with Kuwait Airways, which was obstructing delivery of Iraq's 30 737-800s and 10 787-8s.

One 777-200LR arrived in Baghdad on 15 December 2012, and Al-Khafaji says he is negotiating an order for two additional units with Boeing.

"We have talks about more 777s," he says, adding that the airline will use them to restore long-haul routes ahead of receiving its 787-8s. "We are talking about two [777-200LRs]...In the near future you will see Iraqi Airways flying to Washington or New York with 777s."

Al-Khafaji declined to specify when the flag carrier will start taking delivery of the 10 787-8s in its orderbook, saying only that Boeing "promised that they will give us the Dreamliners in a short time...not a very short time".

He adds that Iraqi Airways is likely to firm up its five 787-8 options, bringing its total commitment to 15. "I think we'll take them all," he confirms.

Downplaying concerns about the grounding of the global 787 fleet, Al-Khafaji says that problems with the aircraft's lithium-ion batteries are "minor issues". He speculates that the manufacturer may take advantage of the situation to upgrade to superior battery technology.

The director general confirms that the airline's 30 ordered 737-800s will begin arriving in July 2013, with an unspecified number being upgraded to 737-900ERs.

"We ordered the best money can buy," he says of the on-board 737 product. "The Boeing Sky Interior is beautiful...We have touch-screens everywhere, business class and economy class."