Global Policy Forum

Jordanian Jet on Landmark Iraq Trip

December 1, 2000

A Jordanian airliner has landed in Baghdad - the national carrier's first commercial flight there since the United Nations imposed an air embargo on Iraq 10 years ago. The Royal Jordanian Airline took reservations and issued tickets, but did not advertise the trip. The Jordanian Transport Minister, Saleh Irshaidat, said the flight was humanitarian in nature, as the plane carried relief supplies as well as passengers.

Our correspondent at the UN in New York says the flight seems to mark another stage in the gradual erosion of Iraq's isolation from air travel.

Happy passengers

The Airbus 310 took off from Amman at 2315 (2115 GMT) and landed at Baghdad's Saddam Hussein international airport at about 0030 (2230 GMT) with 19 passengers on board. The BBC's Amman correspondent, Barbara Plett, who was on the flight, says most of the passengers were Jordanian business people happy to avoid the long desert drive to Baghdad.

Airline officials said the flight from Amman was delayed for several hours because they needed to get UN clearance.

The plane is expected to return with passengers from Baghdad on Friday.

Our correspondent says Jordan hopes to resume regular flights to Baghdad, which would mean one a week. But there are no immediate plans to do so.

A Jordanian relief flight in September set off a wave of sympathy flights to Iraq. Iraq has been under economic sanctions, including a ban on regular flights, since it invaded Kuwait in August 1990.

Mr Irshaidat said Jordan informed the UN sanctions committee of all the flight's details.

Diplomatic dilemma

The BBC's Barbara Plett says Jordan's move highlights the delicate balance it has to maintain between its political allies in the West and its economic interests.

Jordan is firmly in the Western camp, an ally of the United States, which strongly discourages moves towards Baghdad. But Amman is also under intense pressure to build good ties with Iraq because it is a natural trading partner and Jordan has been hit hard by the embargo.

Baghdad has asked the kingdom to open its air space to flights to and from Iraq as part of a campaign to shake off the sanctions. The UN does not specifically ban passenger flights to Iraq, just cargo and commercial transactions.

Iraq has pressed the point by exempting all planes that land in Baghdad from any charges.

More Information on Civilian Flights to Iraq
More Information on Sanctions Against Iraq


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.