(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Etihad Airways will launch flights to Basra in southern Iraq from mid-April.
Basra becomes the 84th destination in the carrier's global network and the third city it flies to in Iraq. Etihad already operates services to the capital, Baghdad, and Erbil in the country's north.
"Iraq's surging economy represents a good opportunity to add even greater depth to our schedule," Etihad president and chief executive officer James Hogan said in an e-mailed statement to Khaleej Times on Tuesday.
The new Airbus A320 service, with 16 Pearl Business class seats and 120 seats in Coral Economy class, will operate four times a week from April 15.
"Basra is an important industrial and transport hub but currently has only limited access to air services and we are delighted to be able to help improve these by investing in the local community," Hogan said.
"Given the absence of Iraqi Airways, Etihad is making the most of an underserved country by operating to the key oil-rich city of Basra, where business growth has spawned demand for higher yielding premium passenger traffic," Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research, told Khaleej Times.
He said expansion in Iraq has become a core focus point for GCC carriers primarily because demand for business and tourist traffic had little choice of air travel options.