Iraqi Airways - History

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 the new airline ordered three Vickers Viking aircraft. While waiting for the Vikings to be delivered the airline leased four Douglas DC-3 aircraft from BOAC in December 1946. In 1947 it ordered the de Havilland Dove to replace the Dragon Rapides and the Doves were delivered in October 1947. The three new Vikings were delivered at the end of 1947 and the DC-3s were 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. On 1 April 1960 the airline became independent from the railway company and in 1961 it placed an order for two Boeing 720Bs for delivery in 1964, but the order for Boeings was later cancelled.

In the 1960s Iraqi Airways bought Russian Tupolev Tu-124 planes as well as Hawker Siddeley Trident aircraft. These jets allowed Iraqi Airways to increase service across the Middle East, to Africa and Europe. During that 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, purchasing the Boeing 707 and, soon after, the Boeing 747.

The Iran–Iraq War did little to undermine the airline's activities.

The United States banned Americans from traveling on Iraqi Airways after the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait. In addition the U.S. government accused the Iraqi Airways offices in the United States of being front companies for Saddam Hussein's government. Since Iraq's invasion in 1990 of Kuwait, Iraqi Airways was grounded by the United Nations' sanctions against the country. Iraqi Airways had 17 jets, all of which were moved to secret locations, mainly in Jordan (some were parked on the aprons of Amman's Queen Alia International Airport where they still stand today).

Attempts were made to restart domestic services in May 1991 and permission was granted by the UN for the operation of 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. On occasions, Iraqi Airways would also fly pilgrims to Muslim religious cities throughout the 1990s.

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