State-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines launched its first flight to Baghdad in 27 years on Monday amid a thaw in ties between the Arab neighbors.
Flight “Airbus A330” departed King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah at 12:35 pm, heading to the Iraqi capital.
Carrier Director General Saleh bin Nasser al-Jasser, heads of operational sectors, representatives of media, as well as a number of passengers were onboard the flight.
The operation of the Saudi Airlines for official and regular flights between Saudi Arabia and Iraq comes in line with the growth and development witnessed in bilateral relations. It is also part of the initiatives of the transformation program that is being implemented in the corporation and its strategic units.
The program’s objectives include strengthening the competitive position of Saudi Arabia at the international level through flying to new international destinations.
Baghdad is the fifth international destination to be launched in 2017 after Multan in Pakistan, Port Sudan in April, Mauritius in September and Trivandrum in India in October.
The planned operations targeting international destinations was based on extensive studies to serve multiple segments of guests, including pilgrims, investors and tourists traveling to other international destinations in which Saudi Arabia or its partners in Skyteam International travel to.
Saudi Arabian Airlines has completed preparations for operating its flights to Iraq with two daily flights in one direction and 28 flights per week in both directions from Jeddah to Baghdad.
Plans to launch flights from Baghdad to Madinah are underway.
Flights to Iraq were operated with 300-seat aircraft, and Saudi Airlines expected 25,000 passengers a week on board flights by 2020.
The air transport industry between Saudi Arabia and Iraq began in 1952 when the network of Saudi International Airlines expanded to include a number of new destinations, including Basra. In 1958, the Saudi international network expanded to reach Baghdad through Basra.