An Airbus A330-200 flight to Basra, in Iraq, chartered from Corsair by the UK Ministry of Defence to transport 144 soldiers, was cancelled at the last minute on 12 September by the French civil aviation authority (DGAC). The DGAC denies press reports that it acted on behalf of the French foreign ministry, and says that the safety of the aircraft was the only consideration.

The authority says Basra airport is closed to civil aircraft unless they have special permission and that it based its decision on International Civil Aviation Organisation guidance dated 18 August about procedures for flight operations in Iraqi airspace, which warns that non-military operations into Iraq are undertaken entirely at the operators' own risk.

"We consider this makes it inappropriate for a civilian company to fly into Basra," says the DGAC. The British soldiers eventually reached Basra on a Portuguese Euroatlantic Airways charter flight.

Source: Flight International