Air Arabia Abu Dhabi Adds First Iraq Connections


Service to Baghdad International is scheduled to launch in June.

Credit: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi is to increase connectivity between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iraq with the launch of a new route to the country’s capital Baghdad and a service to Erbil, the most populated city in the Kurdistan region.

The new nonstop flights will link Abu Dhabi (AUH) with both Baghdad (BGW) and Erbil (EBL) twice a week using Airbus A320s. Baghdad starts on June 22 and Erbil follows on Sept. 15. The LCC will be the sole carrier to offer service on each sector. These are also the airline’s first scheduled operations to Iraq.

Both destinations have been served nonstop from Abu Dhabi in the past, but there are no flights between Abu Dhabi and Iraq at the present time. However, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi’s sister airline Air Arabia flies to Baghdad, Erbil and Al Najaf (NJF) from Sharjah (SHJ).

Air Arabia CEO Adel Al Ali says the expansion from Abu Dhabi “underpins our commitment toward both leisure and business travelers” and would enhance inbound tourism to the UAE.

Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows Etihad Airways served BGW and EBL until March 2015, as well as providing flights to Basrah (BSR) until March 2016. However, Iraq has remained absent from the carrier’s network ever since.

Iraqi Airways also operated a weekly Abu Dhabi-Baghdad route between July and December 2021.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi started operations in July 2020 and now serves a total of 31 destinations from Abu Dhabi.

In total, there are 16 routes currently operating between the UAE and Iraq, 13 of which are from Dubai International (DXB). Flydubai has a 34% capacity share of the market, with Air Arabia on 23.2% and Emirates on 20.2%. Iraqi Airways and Fly Baghdad Airlines also offer UAE-Iraq flights, with 14.1% and 8.5% of the market respectively.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.