Iraq's PM Abadi lifts worldwide flight ban to KRG


Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi agreed to lift a ban on worldwide air traffic to the Kurdistan Region on Tuesday, in a decree which said global flights could resume within one week.

A statement by his office said Abadi signed a decree to lift the ban after receiving positive response from the Kurdish local authorities "to restore the federal authority in the two airports in accordance with the Constitution of Iraq".

The ban on global flights on the region's worldwide airports of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah forced passengers to apply for an Iraqi visa to transit through Baghdad and Basra worldwide airports to go or leave the Kurdish region.

It also specified that the biometric system used in the Kurdistan Region's airports will be linked with the federal system.

The airports are due to open "within a few days" government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi told The Associated Press.

Only domestic flights have been allowed through the region's airports, with foreign airlines suspending their routes. The Iraqi parliament recently approved the 2018 budget in the absence of Kurdish MPs, who boycotted the meeting in protest at the cut in finances allocated to the region.

Iraq's Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence from federal Iraq in the September 25 vote.

The ban was part of a series of penalties imposed on the Kurds to quash the poll.

The vote, which is non-binding but overwhelmingly backed independence, was held across the autonomous Kurdish region's three provinces as well as in some disputed territories controlled by Iraqi Kurdish security forces but claimed by Baghdad.