Aeroflot - Russian International Airlines is to resume regular passenger flights between Moscow and the the Iraqi capital Baghdad next month. Baghdad airport has been refurbished in anticipation of a relaxation in the flight ban (Flight International 29 August - 4 September).

The Russian airline's regional director Pavel Pryadko announced the move in the Iraqi capital after negotiations with the minister of transport Akhmed Murtaza. The Russian airline plans to reopen its Baghdad office in mid-October. Aeroflot operated two flights a week before services ceased in August, 1990 in response to UN economic sanctions. A political agreement to resume the flights was reached during the visit by Iraqi deputy prime minister Tarik Aziz to Moscow in August. Vnukovo Airlines has also been seeking to operate the route.

On 17 September a Russian transport flew a direct flight into Baghdad with a cargo of humanitarian aid, causing accusations of a violation of the embargo. The Russian foreign ministry says the UN had been notified in advance of the flight, and permissions to cross the airspace of several countries had been received. "We continue to assume that the relevant UN resolutions do not prohibit regular passenger flights to Baghdad, and we will be ready to resume as soon as it will become possible," it adds.

• Aeroflot says the first eight months of this year saw passenger numbers rise 8.5% to 3.4 million and cargo go up 22% compared with the same period last year.

Source: Flight International