Greek charter carrier Viking Hellas has teamed up with a consortium of German and Iraqi investors to launch a new joint venture in Iraq called Viking Middle East.

Viking Hellas already operates a number of services between its Athens base and destinations in Iraq, and is planning to launch flights from Manchester in the UK to Erbil and Sulaimaniyah.

The carrier says the new joint venture will enable it to "develop new services to meet the increasing demand for flights to Iraq, especially destinations in the Kurdish Regional Government areas".

"Iraq offers great opportunities for Viking Hellasand the new venture provides a great platform for developing our scheduled services," says Viking Hellas chief executive Roger Gatt.

"By investing in this new joint venture, Viking Hellas has reduced its financial exposure, enhanced its commercial position in Iraq, Benelux, Germany and Scandinavia and released funds for developing other services, including charter flights and [aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance] ACMI operations."

Viking Hellas says that as well as enabling it to "share the risks and rewards" of its scheduled services to Iraq, the new joint venture will support recovery from its affiliation with Viking Airlines, which ceased operations in October.

Viking Hellas was established in January 2010 as an affiliate of Viking Airlines, but the carrier took steps to distance itself from its namesake when the latter suspended services in October.

The carrier could not immediately be reached for further comment on the new joint venture.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news