Basra will be Emirates‘ first Iraqi destination since the airline postponed the launch of flights to Baghdad earlier this year citing “operational reasons”, according to Reuters.
“The city’s recent growth has paved the way for numerous multinational companies and industries to invest in infrastructure and we have seen strong potential from a number of our markets,” Chairman and Chief Executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said in a statement.
“Since the 2009 oilfield [auctions], traffic from the U.S. and Europe into Basra has increased significantly and we are ready to capitalise on this growth,” he added.
Iraq’s Shi’ite south, where Basra is located, has been relatively peaceful in recent months in comparison to Baghdad and the north where devastating assaults and bombings by Sunni Islamist insurgents remain common.
Emirates expects its outbound traffic from Basra to be skewed towards local Iraqis, who are expected to travel more as the economy recovers.
The flights are set to commence on 2nd February, 2011, with a four-times weekly service on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday (operated by three-class Airbus A330 aircraft), and Monday (in a two-class configuration).
Flight EK945 will depart Dubai at 1345, arriving in Basra at 1445, with the return leg EK946 leaving Iraq at 1615 and landing back in Dubai at 1910. Emirates says the service “connects seamlessly with key industry hubs in the US and Europe”.
The airline expects to handle around 10-12 tonnes of cargo per flight.