US carriers are a step closer to operating commercial flights to Baghdad, after the US Department of Transportation (DoT) granted Kalitta Air, Northwest Airlines and World Airways authority to serve Iraq pending further government clearances.

Three US carriers - American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines - already hold certificate authority to serve Iraq. US charter and wet lease operator North American Airlines is awaiting a DoT reply on its proposed services between New York Kennedy and Baghdad via Geneva.

The DOT warns that no airline can launch services to Iraq until it has met all applicable requirements of the US Federal Aviation Administration, the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Defense.

In addition, the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq is examining the prospective restoration of air transport.

"It is difficult to say [which agency] will have the final say," says a DOT spokesman, adding that no timeline has been set for US carriers to operate USA-Iraq routes. Transportation officials lifted a ban on USA-Iraq air service last month, but issues such as security at Iraqi airports must still be addressed.

Source: Flight International