Lufthansa says to resume flights to Arbil in northern Iraq

Sun Aug 3, 2014 4:58pm EDT

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Aug 3 (Reuters) - German airline Deutsche Lufthansa said it would resume flights to and from Arbil in northern Iraq starting on Monday, but would continue to avoid airspace above the area controlled by the Islamic State militant group.

Flights to Asia and other parts of the Middle East also would continue to detour around Iraq, Europe's largest airline by revenue said in an emailed statement on Sunday.

The changes in flight routes would apply to Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo, Austrian Airlines and Swiss, the carrier said, adding that the new flight routes would not significantly lengthen flight times.

Lufthansa's decision came a day after Royal Jordanian - one of the main airlines serving Iraq - said it had suspended all flights to Baghdad for at least 24 hours for security reasons.

Major airlines last week decided to stop flights to certain conflict areas, a move that came in the wake of the June 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 over an embattled zone in eastern Ukraine, which killed 298 people aboard.

Air France-KLM, Britain's Virgin Atlantic, Air Berlin and Poland's LOT were among the carriers that last week suspended flights over Iraq for security reasons.

Lufthansa, which operates two flights a week to Kurdish-controlled Arbil and whose Austrian Airlines unit has a daily flight, had on Friday said it had decided not to fly over Iraq until and including Sunday. (Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bangalore; Editing by Paul Simao)

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