Regional airlines suspend Baghdad flights after airplane shooting


Airlines from at least three countries suspended flights to Baghdad on Tuesday after bullets hit an airplane operated by budget carrier Dubai Aviation Corp, known as flydubai, as it was landing at Baghdad airport.

An aviation official and a security official told Reuters two passengers were lightly injured when three or four bullets hit the body of the plane on Monday evening.

The security official said the authorities had rounded up suspects in farmlands south of the airport, which sits on the city’s western outskirts.

It was not clear whether the shooting was intentional. Guns are widely available in Iraq and celebratory gunfire into the air is not uncommon.

Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, has been trying to push back Islamic State militants since they swept through northern Iraq in June.

But the nearest fighting to Baghdad’s airport is on the western outskirts of Abu Ghraib, more than 10 km (6 miles) away.

The aviation official said Iraq had briefly suspended air traffic on Monday following the incident but permitted it to resume on Tuesday morning.

However, flydubai, Emirates Airlines, Sharjah’s Air Arabia and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways suspended flights on Tuesday, in line with a directive from the United Arab Emirates’ civil aviation authority.

Turkish Airlines and Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines (MEA) also suspended flights for the day without citing the shooting incident.

Company officials said Iraqi Airways and Iran’s Caspian Airlines were operating flights to Baghdad on a normal schedule.

A spokesperson for flydubai denied that any passengers had required medical treatment and said an investigation was under way.
“After landing at Baghdad International Airport (BGW) on 26 Jan. 2015, damage to the aircraft fuselage consistent with small arms fire was discovered on flydubai flight FZ 215,” the spokesperson said.