One of the biggest milestones for a developing country is to have regular commercial traffic in and out of its main airports. It’s even better if part of that traffic is on the nation’s flagship, state-owned carrier — a matter of pride, so to speak. So there’s little doubt that the managers running Iraqi Airways were under a serious amount of pressure to get the airline rolling.
In hindsight, they may have moved too fast. Iraqi Airway’s first flight into London, England ended in disaster this past week when their chartered airplane and their leading man’s papers were detained upon arrival. Behind the seizure? An outstanding suit from Kuwait Airways claiming that the Iraqi government plundered several of their aircraft during the original gulf war. With the Iraqi Airways equipment outside of the middle east, Kuwaiti officials had the authority to seize collateral.
Now, both aircraft and bigwig are stuck in the UK until the entire issue gets sorted out — and Iraqi Airways’ service between Baghdad and London is indefinitely on hold. Perhaps next time they’ll pay their bills.