Jazeera first Kuwaiti carrier to restore Iraq links

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Jazeera Airways is preparing to launch a twice-weekly service from Kuwait City to the Iraqi city of Najaf on 17 April.

"We are in the very final stages of preparation for the launch of our Kuwait-Najaf [route], which was one of initiatives that resulted from successful bilateral discussions between the governments of Kuwait and Iraq that took place in the last few months," says the airline's chairman Marwan Boodai.

"We will start with a frequency of two flights per week, especially for the first six months, and we look forward to starting operations in the second half of April."

The new connection follows a landmark deal between the two countries, reached on 14 March, which ended two decades of litigation stemming from former dictator Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

As part of that agreement Baghdad agreed to pay Kuwait $500 million for the theft of ten aircraft and spare parts by Iraq's armed forces.

Kuwait Airways had originally demanded $1.2 billion in the High Court in London, fuelling a bitter dispute which saw Iraqi Airways' assets seized across the globe.

Last month's bilateral agreement also included access rights for Kuwaiti carriers to several other Iraqi cities, including Mosul, Baghdad and Irbil.