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Iraqi Airways
Iraqi Airways Logo.svg
Founded June 1945; 79 years ago (1945-06)
Baghdad, Iraq
Commenced operations 28 January 1946; 78 years ago (1946-01-28)
AOC # 19
Operating bases
  • Basra International Airport
  • Erbil International Airport
Hubs Baghdad International Airport
Focus cities
  • Al Najaf International Airport
  • Sulaymaniyah International Airport
Fleet size 40
Destinations 50
Parent company Iraqi Government
Headquarters Baghdad, Iraq
Key people Munaf Abdulmunem Ajel (CEO)

Iraqi Airways Company (Arabic: الخطوط الجوية العراقية, romanized: al-Xuṭūṭ al-Jawwiyyah al-ʿIrāqiyyah), operating as Iraqi Airways, is the national carrier of Iraq, headquartered on the grounds of Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad. It is the second oldest airline in the Middle East. Iraqi Airways operates domestic and regional services; its main base is Baghdad International Airport.


Viscount 735 (Iraqi AW) at EMA
Iraqi Airways Vickers Viscount 735 at East Midlands Airport in 1978
HS.121 Trident 1E YI-AEB Iraq Aws ATH 22.04.73 edited-3
Iraqi Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident1E landing at Athens Hellenikon Airport in 1973
Iraqi Airways Boeing 747-200C YI-AGP LHR 1983-2-18
An Iraqi Airways Boeing 747-200C at London Heathrow Airport in 1983
Tozeur two Iraqi Boeing
Boeing 747 originally belonging to Iraqi Airways waiting in Tozeur for a settlement with Kuwait since 1990
Iraqi Airways Boeing 737-200Adv N239US PRG 2004-10-17
An Iraqi Airways Boeing 737-200 Advanced at Prague Ruzyne Airport in 2004
Abandoned Iraqi Airways office
An Iraqi Airways building in Amman, Jordan
Iraqi Airways Boeing 747SP Gupta
An Iraqi Government Boeing 747SP operated by Iraqi Airways at Andrews Air Force Base in 1989

Early history

Iraqi Airways was founded in 1945 as a department of the Iraqi State Railways and started operating on 28 January 1946 using five De Havilland Dragon Rapides on a service to Syria. With the help of the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), the new airline ordered three Vickers Viking aircraft. While waiting for the Vikings to be delivered, it leased four Douglas DC-3 aircraft from BOAC in December 1946. In 1947, the airline ordered the de Havilland Dove to replace the Dragon Rapides; the Doves were delivered in October 1947. The three new Vikings were delivered at the end of 1947 and the DC-3s returned to BOAC. A fourth Viking was bought second-hand.

In 1953, the four-engined Vickers Viscount turboprop was chosen to replace the Vikings and an order for three was placed in July. The Viscounts entered service in 1955 and operated all of Iraqi Airways' international services, including a new route to London with intermediate stops. On 1 April 1960, the airline was split from the railway company. In 1961, it placed an order for two Boeing 720Bs for delivery in 1964, but the order was later cancelled.

In the 1960s, Iraqi Airways bought Russian Tupolev Tu-124 planes as well as Hawker Siddeley Trident aircraft. These jets allowed the airline to increase services across the Middle East, to Africa and Europe. At the time, cargo aircraft such as the Ilyushin Il-76 were also purchased. During the 1970s, Iraqi Airways needed a bigger jet for a new route to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York; it purchased the Boeing 707 and, soon after, the Boeing 747. Airfares were kept artificially low through state subsidies under the Iraqi Ba'athist government.

Later history

Attempts were made to restart domestic services after the Gulf War in May 1991, and permission was granted by the United Nations to operate helicopters on limited domestic services. Fixed-wing flights were banned under the ceasefire terms, although the UN Security Council agreed to the resumption of domestic flights. These restarted in January 1992 from Baghdad to Basra, using Antonov An-24 aircraft. Operations were suspended shortly after, following a UN ruling.

However, domestic flights became a rarity too, because of the no-fly zone imposed by the United States and United Kingdom over Iraqi skies. During the 1990s, Iraqi Airways would occasionally fly pilgrims to Muslim religious cities.


After the War in Iraq, on 30 May 2003, Iraqi Airways announced plans to resume international services. The rights to the Iraqi Airways name was transferred to a new and separate company called Iraqi Airways Company, which would establish a new airline and protect it from the legal problems tied to Saddam Hussein's regime. Operations restarted on 3 October 2004, with a flight between Baghdad and Amman.

Iraqi Airways operated the first domestic commercial scheduled service since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, from Baghdad to Basra, with 100 passengers in a Boeing 727-200, on 4 June 2005. On 6 November 2005, Iraqi Airways operated a flight from Baghdad to Tehran, Iran, for the first time in twenty-five years. The aircraft, as with the rest of the fleet, was operated on its behalf by Teebah Airlines of Jordan. Services to Erbil and Sulaymaniyah were added in summer 2005.

In June 2009, it was revealed that Iraqi Airways had struck a deal with British aviation authorities to resume direct from Baghdad to London Gatwick Airport; the flights were supposed to begin on 8 August 2009 using a Boeing 737-400 leased from Tor Air and would eventually have seen the Airbus A320-200 operating the route. This did not happen as planned, however. The airline said at the time that they intended on a bigger expansion into the UK and Europe.

In November 2009, Blue Wings, a German airline, began operating flights to Düsseldorf and Frankfurt, Germany on behalf of Iraqi Airways.

On 25 April 2010, Iraqi Airways launched flights to Gatwick Airport via Malmö, Sweden. When the first flight landed at London, a Kuwaiti lawyer had the General Director Kifah Hassan's documents and passport seized, as well as the plane itself. There were no developments, however, as the plane was owned by the Swedish company Tor Air. The plane returned to Baghdad. However, Kifah Hassan was not allowed to leave the United Kingdom and went up in court on 30 April. Kuwaiti officials demanded £780 million for the planes stolen by Saddam Hussein in the 1990 invasion.

On 26 May 2010, Amer Abdul-Jabbar, Iraq's transport minister, said the cabinet had decided on Tuesday to dissolve the company over the next three years and pursue private options to avoid asset claims made by Kuwait over their 1990–91 war.

In February 2012, Iraqi Airways announced that it would resume flights to India, with services to Delhi or Mumbai from Baghdad.

In April 2012, it was announced that Iraqi Airways had ordered 40 new Boeing aircraft, the order consisting of 30 737-800 and 10 787. The first aircraft would be delivered in December 2012. Airbus in early December delivered its first A330-200 to Iraq, while Boeing delivered a Boeing 777 around the same time as well.

On 14 August 2013, Iraqi Airways took delivery of their first Boeing 737-800 directly from Boeing Company.

In June 2014, Iraqi Airways suspended services to Mosul due to the capture of the city by ISIL.

On 8 September 2015, Iraqi Airways received a loan of $2 billion from a Citibank to finance the purchase of 40 modern aircraft type Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The airline opened a Request For Proposals (RFP) to European airlines with a valid AOC certification in late 2019. The goal was to obtain agreements to wet lease aircraft that can serve routes between Iraq and Europe.

In 2019, Iraqi Airways saw the resumption of flights to Syria, between Damascus and Baghdad.


In 2008, Iraqi Airways received a single Bombardier CRJ in an adapted version of Bombardier's distinctive blue and white demonstrator livery with Iraqi titles and logos. The rest of the CRJ fleet were delivered in a version of the former green livery and YI-AQA was quickly painted to match. In 2012 Iraqi Airways adopted a new green livery which was applied fleet-wide.

Iraqi Airways is one of the few airlines that do not serve alcoholic beverages on their flights.


In March 2009, Iraqi Airways began its first flights to Sweden in almost 19 years.

In September 2009, the airline resumed flights to Bahrain and Doha, Qatar.

In October 2009, Iraqi Airways resumed flights to Karachi, Pakistan. The airline also started seasonal (Hajj) flights to Jeddah.

After revealing the previous month that it had applied for rights to fly to Malmö, Sweden, Iraqi Airways commenced flights to the city on 28 November 2009.


Current fleet

Iraqi Airways, YI-AGS, Airbus A321-231 (30728990257)
An Iraqi Airways Airbus A321 landing at Vnukovo Airport, Moscow, Russia (2018)
Iraqi Airways, YI-AQY, Airbus A330-202 (31817502202)
An Iraqi Airways Airbus A330-200 landing at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, Turkey (2016)
Iraqi Airways Boeing 737-81Z at Munich Airport
An Iraqi Airways Boeing 737-800 at Munich International Airport, Germany in 2015
Iraqi Airways Boeing 747-400
An Iraqi Airways Boeing 747-400 in the new livery landing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia in 2014
YI-AQZ JFK Landing 22L IA B777 29M LR Small
Iraqi Airways' single Boeing 777-200LR landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City, USA in 2022.

As of August 2023, the Iraqi Airways fleet consists of the following aircraft:

Iraqi Airways fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Airbus A220-300 5 12 130 142
Airbus A320-200 3 180 180
Airbus A321-200 2 220 220
Airbus A330-200 1 24 264 288 YI-AQY
Boeing 737-800 14 12 150 162 One leased from Tailwind Airlines
Boeing 737 MAX 8 6 12 150 162
Boeing 737 MAX 10 10 TBA Deliveries from 2024.
Boeing 777-200LR 1 14 350 364 YI-AQZ
Boeing 787-8 2 8 24 242 266 Deliveries commenced in 2023
Bombardier CRJ-900LR 6 90 90
Total 40 18

Fleet development

In May 2008, the Iraqi government signed a $2.2 billion contract with Boeing for 30 Boeing 737-800s with an option for an additional 10. It was also working on a deal involving the order of ten Boeing 787 Dreamliners aircraft for long-range service.

Another contract worth $398 million was signed for ten Bombardier CRJ-900ER aircraft with ten options. The first CRJ-900ER was delivered in October 2008. This resulted in a lawsuit against Bombardier by Kuwait Airways. Kuwait claims to have won $1.2 billion in judgments against Iraqi Airways as a result of the Gulf War. The Canadian judge ruled that he did not have jurisdiction because the case involved a foreign government, given that the purchaser of the aircraft was the government of Iraq, not Iraqi Airways. The lawsuit by Kuwait Airways was settled in 2009, with Iraq agreeing to pay $300 million.

In February 2010, Iraqi Airways announced major fleet plans, including converting 10 of the 30 orders for the Boeing 737-800 to additional wide bodies as well as bringing the delivery date forward to September 2011, and changing the 10 Boeing 787 Dreamliner orders to Boeing 777 aircraft.

Former fleet

Five Kuwait Airways Airbus A310-200s were seized in 1990 and re-registered in Iraq as part of Iraqi Airways; however, these never flew any commercial flights for the airline. Iraqi Airways also ordered five Airbus A310-300s in the late 1980s, but war-related sanctions prevented their delivery.

Accidents and incidents

Iraqi Airways' was subject to incidents during the American-Led Gulf Wars with the last occurring on 25 December 1986. In modern day, has seen significant improvements amongst their fleet and operations. The airline has had the following incidents, accidents and hijackings since it began operations in 1945:

  • On 4 February 1955, de Havilland Dove YI-ABJ crashed following an engine fire in Al-Mansuriya, Iraq.
  • On 10 October 1955, a Vickers 644 Viking 1B overran the runway at Baghdad and crashed into a ditch, where it caught fire. All nineteen passengers and crew survived, but the aircraft was written off.
  • On 19 March 1965, a Vickers 773 Viscount crashed into a row of lamp posts at Cairo after a flight from Baghdad. All passengers and crew survived, but the aircraft was written off.
  • On 17 April 1973, a Vickers 735 Viscount performed a belly landing at Mosul International Airport after running out of fuel. All 33 passengers and crew survived, but the aircraft was written off.
  • On 1 March 1975, a Boeing 737-200 flying from Mosul to Baghdad was hijacked by three hijackers. There was one death on board.
  • On 23 September 1980, an Ilyushin Il-76 cargo aircraft flying from Paris to Baghdad crashed while on approach to Baghdad International Airport. It is believed the aircraft was shot down by Iranian fighter jets.
  • On 24 September 1980, an Antonov An-24TV was reportedly destroyed on the ground at Kirkuk Airport during heavy fighting.
  • On 22 April 1982, an Antonov An-24B crashed while on approach to an Iraqi airfield. The left wing hit the ground, causing the aircraft to crash.
  • On 28 August 1982, the undercarriage of an Antonov An-24TV collapsed on takeoff from Nasiriyah Airport. Everyone on board survived, but the aircraft was written off.
  • On 16 September 1984, Iraqi Airways Flight 123, a Boeing 737-200C flying from Larnaca to Baghdad was hijacked by three hijackers All the passengers and crew survived.
  • On 25 December 1986, Iraqi Airways Flight 163, a Boeing 737-200C flying from Baghdad to Amman experienced a hijack attempt while flying over Saudi Arabia. Four hijackers tried to enter the cockpit as the aircraft was flying at FL260. Two explosions went off, resulting in a crash near Arar, Saudi Arabia killing 63 of the 106 on board.
  • During the Persian Gulf War, two Iraqi Airways Tupolev Tu-124Vs parked on the ground were destroyed by U.S. bombs.
  • On July 3 2019 An Iraqi Airways Airbus A320-200, registration YI-ARA performing flight IA-239 from Sulaimaniyah to London Gatwick the flight was transit to Sofia then flying to London with 78 passengers and 9 crew, When the aircraft was descending toward Sofia the crew reported a cracked right hand windshield and requested a quick landing, however, no emergency or priority was requested. The aircraft landed on Sofia's runway 09 about 10 minutes later.
  • On 27 August 2023 An Iraqi Airways Boeing 737-800, registration YI-ASW, performing flight IA-3202 from Medina to Sulaymaniyah, was on approach to Sulaymaniyah when a bird impacted the nose cone of the aircraft. The aircraft continued for a safe landing on Sulaymaniyah's runway 31. The aircraft remained on the ground in Sulaymaniyah for about 18.5 hours before returning to service.
  • On 11 September 2023, a ground vehicle hit and damaged the left wing of a new Iraqi Airways Boeing 737 Max 8 (registration YI-ASY, which had been delivered in July 2023) at Baghdad International Airport, causing a fuel leak. The plane was grounded until 1 December. The aircraft underwent temporary repairs by the airline's maintenance staff, before being transferred to Southern California Logistics Airport, where the final repair of its left wing was carried out. By 1 January 2024 YI-ASY had been returned to service.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Iraqi Airways para niños

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