Gerald Butt/NICOSIA

Restrictions on civilian flights in and out of Iraq could be relaxed under amendments to the United Nations sanctions on the country being discussed by the UN Security Council. Council members disagree, however, on the extent to which restrictions should be eased.

A draft motion from the UK calls for the adoption of "smart" sanctions on Baghdad to ease humanitarian suffering and tighten arms controls. The UK proposes that non-Iraqi civil aircraft carrying passengers and/or cargo should be allowed to operate into and out of Iraq provided they land at or take off from "one of the airfields designated" by the UN Sanctions Committee and that notification of the flights has been made five days in advance. UN observers would "prevent the carriage of unauthorised cargo". The UK resolution also says that Iraqi civil aircraft outside the country "may be sold by the states in which they are located", with the money deposited in a UN escrow account.

Russia, however, is calling for the unrestricted resumption of civilian flights and the return of Iraqi aircraft located outside the country. France has been mediating between the two.

Several countries are already operating charter flights in and out of Baghdad. On 1 June, Jordan began a twice-weekly "scheduled charter" service between Amman and Baghdad, with one operated by Royal Jordanian and the second by Royal Wings. Iran is also considering launching twice-weekly Tehran-Baghdad flights.

Source: Flight International