(MENAFN - Arab News) Qatar Airways has expanded passenger services to Iraq with the launch of its second destination in the country - to Baghdad.
The airline is operating four-flights-a-week nonstop on the Baghdad route.
Located on the banks of the Tigris River, Iraq's capital is one of the Arab world's largest cities.
The move comes just two weeks after Qatar Airways launched flights, also four-times-a-week, to the northern Iraqi city of Erbil.
Cargo traffic bound for Iraq will see a boost when Qatar Airways launches a dedicated weekly freighter service to Erbil, effective July 5.
Both the Erbil and Baghdad passenger services are being operated with an Airbus A320 in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in business class and 132 in economy.
Fathi Al-Shehab, Qatar Airways senior vice president, GCC, Levant, Iran, Iraq and Indian Subcontinent, was onboard inaugural flight QR442 to Baghdad, which arrived at the city's international airport to a traditional water salute welcome followed by an airport ceremony attended by local officials and media.
The addition of Baghdad takes Qatar Airways' global network to 116 destinations worldwide. Qatar Airways' passengers flying to Iraq from destinations across the Gulf, Europe, Indian subcontinent, Asia Pacific and the Americas can seamlessly connect via the airline's Doha hub.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker said: "Baghdad had long been on our list of destinations which we identified as being a key part of growing our Middle East network. During Iraq's current period of reform and development, with industries resurging and many new companies expanding operations to Iraq, we felt this was the time to move into the country."
Since the beginning of the year, Qatar Airways has launched flights to Baku (Azerbaijan); Tbilisi (Georgia); Kigali (Rwanda); Zagreb (Croatia), Erbil (Iraq), and now Baghdad, with many more planned during 2012.