Flydubai, Royal Jordanian Halt Flights to Northern Iraq After Kurdish Vote

Baghdad sends notice to foreign airlines telling them international flights to Erbil and Sulaymaniyah will be suspended on Friday

Passengers are seen at Erbil International Airport, Iraq September 27, 2017.
Passengers are seen at Erbil International Airport, Iraq September 27, 2017. AZAD LASHKARI/REUTERS

Jordan's state carrier Royal Jordanian as well as budget carrier flydubai said on Wednesday that flights to major cities in northern Iraq would be suspended, complying with an Iraqi government demand following an independence referendum in the Kurdish-majority north. 

Flydubai will suspend flights to Erbil from Saturday, a spokesman said. Royal Jordanian, which operates 10 weekly flights to Erbil and three weekly flights to Sulaymaniyah, said flights to both cities will be halted at 6 P.M. local time on Friday.

People in northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence in Monday's non-binding vote that was opposed by Baghdad, Turkey and Iran, who all fear it could encourage separatism among their own Kurdish populations. 

The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority sent a notice on Wednesday to foreign airlines telling them international flights to Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdish region would be suspended on Friday at 3 P.M. local time and only domestic flights allowed.