BAGHDAD, (AFP) – Iraqi Airways on Saturday took delivery of a Boeing 777 passenger jet, one of dozens of aircraft Iraq has ordered in a bid to rebuild the airline, a transport ministry official said.
“A Boeing 777 aircraft arrived today,” said Karim al-Nuri, an adviser to the transport minister, adding that it was the first of 30 aircraft Iraq has ordered from the US firm.
“The US embassy in Baghdad worked closely with Iraqi Airways and Boeing to complete the sale,” the embassy said, adding that Ambassador Stephen Beecroft attended a ceremony marking the plane’s delivery.
Iraqi Airways, which is one of the oldest in the Middle East, was founded in 1938, and became a state-owned firm in 1946.
It has faced a number of problems in more recent years.
The company stopped working in 1991 after Saddam Hussein’s disastrous invasion of neighbouring Kuwait, which turned Iraq into an international pariah.
In 2000, it resumed operations by restarting domestic flights, officials in the company said.
The company resumed international flights to Jordan and Iran in October 2004, more than a year after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
A dispute with Kuwait Airways over aircraft and parts it says Iraq plundered from the emirate during its invasion saw British authorities seize the passport of Iraqi Airways chief executive Kifah Hassan Jabbar and impound the plane on which he flew to London in April 2010.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s spokesman said in March that an agreement was reached to solve the issue for $500 million (382 million euros).