US Turns Mosul Int'l Airport Over To Iraqis
Ninewa, Nov 26, (VOI) – Four years after being converted into a U.S. military base, Mosul International Airport will soon reopen for civilian flights and will launch its first flight for pilgrims traveling to the holy land in Saudi Arabia.
Ninewa Governor Darid Muhammad Kashmola told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) that preparations are underway to reopen Mosul airport and indicated that the inaugural flight will carry pilgrims to Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
In a phone call with VOI, Nour al-Din al-Hayali, a member of parliament from the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front (IAF), said that he had committed himself to raising the issue of the Mosul airport in the Iraqi parliament. "This structure is Mosul's lungs and vital artery for local resident who are willing to travel to Baghdad and abroad, especially given the current difficult circumstances facing road transport," al-Hayali indicated.
Meanwhile, the media director in Mosul said that preparation work on the road leading to the airport and the terminals will soon be completed. "Work includes a project to line the road with trees, which we embarked upon on Saturday," the director added.
An official source from the Iraqi Airways, the national airline of Iraq, said that preparations are in their final stages. "Extra electricity lines and X-ray scanners have been installed, and a new staff has been appointed," according to the source.
Moreover, several meetings were held between the Hajj (Pilgrimage) Authority and Iraqi Airways to coordinate pilgrimage flights, scheduled to start on December 2, 2007.
Iraqi Airways is currently updating the airport's construction and equipment, including the terminals, watchtowers and other facilities, the source added.
Established in the 1950s in southern Mosul, the airport operated civilian flights until 2003, when the Multi-National Force (MNF) turned it into a military base. Only recently has the U.S. forces made the decision to hand it over to Iraqi authorities.
Mosul, the capital city of Ninewa province, lies 405 north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.