7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Iran-Iraq flights ban is extended

A SUSPENSION of all Gulf Air flights to and from Iran and Iraq has been extended.

Bahrain's national carrier had been due to resume flights to both countries tomorrow.

However, the suspension - which has been in place since March - has been extended until next month.

"The decision has been taken following the ongoing security situation in the region," the airline stated on its website.

Gulf Air flights to Iraq are now due to resume on November 15, while flights to Iran are pencilled in from November 30.

The flights to both countries were originally supposed to be restarted in April and has been repeatedly extended - meaning there is no guarantee the flights will resume next month.

The airline said passengers holding confirmed tickets to Iran and Iraq could rebook at no additional charge, or request a refund.

Meanwhile, a Bahrain Air spokesman said it had suspended flights to the two countries indefinitely until the government gave it the green light to restart.

Both carriers suspended flights to and from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon in March, but resumed services to Beirut in June.

The ban followed a government advisory urging Bahraini citizens against visiting Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, based on claims that Iran and Lebanese guerilla group Hizbollah were involved in Bahrain's unrest.

Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) Under-Secretary Captain Abdulrahman Al Gaoud said earlier this year that the ban was intended to "protect" passengers and planes in line with international aviation regulations.

Gulf Air chief commercial officer Karim Makhlouf admitted in August that the airline had been hit by regional unrest, but major steps were underway to make up the losses.

He said the continued suspension of flights to Iraq and Iran was affecting profits and they were in touch with authorities on when they might resume.

Gulf Air previously operated flights to Baghdad, Najaf, Erbil and Basra in Iraq, as well as Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan and Shiraz in Iran.

Bahrain Air operated routes to Mashhad in Iran and Najaf and Baghdad in Iraq.

A Bahrain-based representative of Iran Air said yesterday that its flights to Bahrain were also cancelled since March and did not know when they would resume.

"There are no direct flights and passengers from Bahrain usually travel to Iran from Doha, Kuwait and Dubai," she said.

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