Iraq has prolonged by three months a ban on worldwide flights to the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Authorities (KRG), a senior official on the Arbil airport stated on Feb. 26.
The federal authorities in Baghdad first imposed the air blockade in September after Iraqi Kurdistan voted overwhelmingly for independence in a non-binding referendum rejected as unlawful by the central authorities.
It was prolonged in December for 2 months and was to run till February 28 however the authorities determined to resume it for 3 months, the official stated.
“We have been informed by the civil aviation authority in Baghdad that the ban on international flights to and from Arbil and Sulaimaniyah airports has been extended until the end of May,” he stated.
“Only internal flights are authorized.”
A spokesman for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s workplace confirmed the ban was prolonged.
“No date had been set to lift the ban,” Saad al-Hadithi informed AFP.
“It will depend on the transfer of the airport’s administration to the federal government and when that will be done the ban will be lifted,” he added.
In response to Hadithi, “progress” has been made throughout negotiations involving Kurdish and federal authorities officers on a number of points, together with customs, passports and visas.
“But the issue of the control of security at the airports has not been solved yet, although there is a will to reach a solution to this problem,” he added.
Earlier than the controversial September vote on independence, the KRG official had been in command of all these points however after the ballot that angered Baghdad, the federal authorities demanded to take management.
For the reason that flight ban went into pressure, all KRG-bound worldwide flights have been rerouted to Baghdad, which has additionally imposed entry visas to foreigners wishing to go to the Kurdish area.
The flight ban was a part of a battery of penalties inflicted on the Kurds as Baghdad sought to nullify the ballot, with federal forces additionally seizing disputed oil-rich areas.