Etihad Airways plans to begin scheduled service from Abu Dhabi to Baghdad on April 26, becoming the first airline based in the United Arab...

Subject to government and regulatory approvals, Etihad Airways plans to begin scheduled service from Abu Dhabi to Baghdad on April 26.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways says that with the new flights it will become the first airline based in the United Arab Emirates to serve Iraq.

Etihad will operate five return services each week to Baghdad, operated by two-class Airbus A320s. The airline plans to expand its Iraq operation with two A320 return flights per week to the city of Erbil from June 1, subject to government and regulatory approvals.

“We expect to see strong demand on these routes, particularly from government and business travelers, as well as people from Iraq visiting family and friends around the world,” says James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive. “We launched a cargo operation to Baghdad in September 2009, and have recently commenced additional cargo flights to Erbil , which we expect will perform well for Etihad.”

Etihad Airways painted this Airbus A320 in a speciual livery to commemorate the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix

According to Hogan, the schedules for the new services will offer air travellers convenient onward connections via Abu Dhabi to a number of key destinations across the airline’s global network, including cities in the Gulf Cooperation Council nations and Middle East, Europe, North America (New York, Chicago and Toronto), Australia, Japan, China and the Philippines.

“We are grateful to the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority and the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority for their support, which has enabled us to move forward with these important new services,” adds Hogan.

Etihad’s flight EY555 to Baghdad will depart Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. and arrive at Baghdad International Airport (SDA) at 11:25 a.m.. The return flight, EY554, will depart SDA at 12:30 p.m., arriving at AUH at 3:50 p.m .

Flight EY557 to Erbil will depart AUH at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Sundays, arriving at Erbil International Airport (EBL) at 11:50 a.m . The return flight, EY558, will depart EBL at 1:00 p.m., arriving back at AUH at 4:40 p.m . All times quoted are local.