When a flight of Iraq’s national carrier, Iraqi Airways, touches down at the Mumbai international airport on Tuesday, it will be a historic moment. The airline is restarting direct flights to Mumbai after more than 22 years.
The airline’s planes were grounded due to UN sanctions during the Gulf War in 1990-91, which was fought between a UN-authorised coalition force from 34 countries and Iraq after the latter invaded Kuwait.
Last month, the airline resumed flights to Delhi. Before that there were no direct flights to Iraq from India.
The reason, officials say, for restarting flights to India is to cater to the country's growing religious tourism. Najaf, Karbala, Samarra, Kadhimiya are some of the prominent places in Iraq visited by Shia Muslims from India, they said. As per an estimate, Shia population in India stands second only to Iran in the world.
The airline will operate twice a week from Mumbai. It has its office in South Mumbai. A spokesperson for the airline did not respond to calls and messages sent by DNA.