Iraq’s government has openly floated the idea of establishing an associate carrier to Iraqi Airways as it continues efforts to improve operations and lift long-running restrictions imposed by European regulators.

Prime minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani chaired a high-level meeting on 26 February to review the work of the carrier.

According to the prime minister’s office, attendees of the meeting discussed the idea of “establishing an auxiliary airline company” based on studying business models from specialist aviation consultants.

Iraqi Airways was blacklisted by the European Commission towards the end of 2015 and, despite several rounds of talks, the restrictions have remained in place, forcing the airline to resort to wet-leasing to serve European destinations.

At the end of last year the Commission stated that it planned to carry out an on-site assessment of airline oversight by the Iraqi civil aviation authority – focusing on both the regulator and “selected air carriers” after adding Fly Baghdad to its blacklist.

Iraqi A220 YI-ARF-c-Iraqi Airways

Source: Iraqi Airways

Iraqi Airways is modernising its fleet but remains on the European Commission blacklist

The prime minister’s office has not given any further detail on the potential for a subsidiary or associate carrier.

Iraq’s transport ministry – a participant in the meeting – issued several directives to the airline on 3 March, but has not publicly referenced the possibility.

These directives stress the need to develop a plan to complete maintenance and repair work on the Iraqi Airways fleet “within specific timeframes”, and increasing the level of crew training at the carrier in order to provide “the best services to passengers”.

The ministry is urging the carrier to complete work by the end of June relating to meeting IATA requirements.

It has also directed the carrier to “expedite” work on automation projects for the carrier, which are being conducted in co-operation with Belgian business software firm Odoo, and has been reviewing progress on selling electronic tickets.