Saudi Arabian Airlines resumes flying to Iraq after 27 years

FILE PHOTO: A Saudia, also known as Saudi Arabian Airlines, plane lands at Rafik al-Hariri airport in Beirut, Lebanon June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

DUBAI (Reuters) - State-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines said it will start flying regularly to Iraq on Monday after a 27-year halt, state news agency SPA said.

The carrier’s director general, Saleh bin Nasser al-Jasser, will accompany reporters and passengers on the first flight to depart from the Saudi city of Jeddah to Baghdad, SPA said late on Sunday.

There have been no flights between Saudi Arabia and Iraq since former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait in 1990.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are both wooing Baghdad in an effort to halt the growing regional influence of arch-foe Iran.

In August the two countries said they planned to open the Arar land border crossing for trade for the first time since 1990.

That announcement followed a decision by the Saudi cabinet this month to set up a joint trade commission with Iraq.

Saudi Arabian budget airline Flynas was the first Saudi airline to fly to Iraq in more than 25 years.

Reporting by Mostafa Hashem in Cairo; Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Clarence Fernandez