Saudi Airplane Arrives in Baghdad for First Time in 27 Years

In an effort to court Iraq and counter Iran's growing influence, Saudi Arabia welcomes first flight since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait

File photo: Baghdad in a view from Air Force One as it carries then-President George W. Bush, June 5, 2003.

A Saudi Arabian commercial airplane arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday for the first time in 27 years, the Iraqi transport ministry said.

There have been no flights between the neighboring countries since former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are both wooing Baghdad now in an effort to halt the growing regional influence of arch-foe Iran.

"Baghdad International Airport today welcomed the first Saudi plane after a 27-year break," said a ministry statement cited by local media. "This plane belongs to the Saudi company Flynas."

Flynas, which launched as Nas Air in 2007 and first turned a profit in 2015, is facing increasing competition in Saudi Arabia, its primary market. It said last week it would soon start flights to several Iraqi cities.

In August the two countries said they planned to open the Arar land border crossing for trade for the first time since 1990.