Iraqis and Kurds living in the Midlands have been handed a nifty Christmas present by Birmingham Airport – a route home. The new flight departs every Tuesday morning, and travels to the cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in Kurdistan, Iraq.
Kurdistan is a mountainous plateau that crosses the border of four different countries – Turkey, where the majority of the Kurds live, Iraq and Syria, and Iran. There are around thirty million Kurds in the world.
Aer Olympic, a Swedish airline, will be in charge of the trip. The carrier joins fellow Scandinavian, Viking Airlines, as the most important Western airline in Erbil, a truly ancient metropolis.
Birmingham boss, Paul Kehoe, noted “encouraging loads” on the first few flights – “The route will offer a direct link to Kurdistan for the first time. We wish the service every success.” Aer Olympic were equally optimistic.
Iraq is still considered a dangerous country by UK and US governments, due to recent military action, but Erbil and Sulaymaniyah are safer by degrees.
Erbil is full of archaeological remains, boasting one of the most impressive citadels in Eurasia, whilst Sulaymaniyah has become an important symbol of Iraqi freedom. Azadi Park, a green oasis within urban Sulaymaniyah, was once an execution site favoured by toppled dictator, Saddam Hussein.
Aer Olympic’s Birmingham – Iraq flight makes a short stop in Stockholm before jetting off to the Middle East. The two cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah are visited on alternate weeks.
Unfortunately, the route is difficult to book, and does not feature on Birmingham’s official website. The official Aer Olympic website is the only reliable resource for flights to Kurdistan, and should be your first port of call.
Please consult the Foreign Office website before departing for Iraq.