updated 6/8/2011 1:10:38 PM ET 2011-06-08T17:10:38

Austrian Airlines resumed flights to Baghdad on Wednesday after a 21-year absence, becoming the first major western carrier with regular flights to the Iraqi capital.

  1. Don't miss these Travel stories
    1. Lords of the gourd compete for Punkin Chunkin honors

      With teams using more than 100 unique apparatuses to launch globular projectiles a half-mile or more, the 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event is our pick as November’s Weird Festival of the Month.

    2. Airports, airlines work hard to return your lost items
    3. Expert: Tourist hordes threaten Sistine Chapel's art
    4. MGM Grand wants Las Vegas guests to Stay Well
    5. Report: Airlines collecting $36.1B in fees this year

An Austrian Airlines plane touched down Wednesday afternoon at Baghdad International Airport, dropping off passengers from Vienna and picking up passengers going to Austria on the return flight.

The decision by the Vienna-based airline to resume Baghdad flights should help Iraq lure international investors. A number of western carriers have expressed interest in starting up a Baghdad route but none have yet to do so.

The airline will operate three flights a week, said Kurt Reimann, its Iraq general manager. A round-trip ticket will cost $1,199, he said.

Austrian Airlines began flying to Baghdad in 1982 but stopped in 1990 due to the first Gulf War.
The airline already flies to the northern Iraqi city of Irbil six times a week. Irbil is much safer than the capital, which has struggled to attract international investors to anything except the surest economic bets.

Iraqi Airways chief Kifah Jabar Hassan said Iraq had been working hard to convince European airlines to resume flights to Baghdad.

Many regional carriers fly to the Iraqi capital, including Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and Turkish Airlines. But there had been no direct passenger flights between Baghdad and Western Europe.

Stockholm-based Nordic Airways launched commercial flights to Baghdad from Copenhagen, Denmark, in January 2009 but its operating license was revoked later that month.

German airliner Deutsche Lufthansa AG last year postponed the scheduled startup of a Munich-to-Baghdad route, citing a lack of customer interest.

Lufthansa has resumed flights to Irbil.

France's Aigle Azur flew to Baghdad last fall on an inaugural flight carrying French officials. The ceremonial flight was supposed to be followed by regularly-scheduled flights this year but those never materialized.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments