Baghdad is drafting two pieces of legislation that are designed to bring its aviation industry up to international standards.

Despite a suspension of major transport projects following the appointment of Emir Jabbar as transport minister in early August, the Iraqi government is drafting a new Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) law and an Airport Authority law to improve the regulation of the industry as it slowly reintegrates itself into the global market.

Under the new rules, the CAA will gain greater autonomy from the Transport Ministry, establishing civil aviation regulations and setting its own budget.

With a clearer division between the authority and government, the CAA will assume principle control over safety and security, regulating all aspects of Iraqi air navigation and air traffic control.

The CAA will also exercise its new fiscal independence to bring Iraqi aviation more closely into line with regulations and standards set out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

“ICAO recommends that income from landing fees and over-flight fees should be reinvested in the aviation infrastructure, but at the moment this does not happen in Iraq,” says Michael McCormick, transport attache at the US embassy in Baghdad and policy adviser to the government. “Aviation income goes into the central coffers in Baghdad and is redistributed as the government sees fit.”

Meanwhile, the Airport Auth-ority law will take responsibility for managing Iraq’s airports away from the CAA, establishing them as independent businesses that, in time, will be run on a commercial basis.

A separate airports authority is to be established within the Transport Ministry to oversee the management of each site.

Both laws are expected to be passed to the Justice Ministry by the end of 2008.

If the draft rules are approved, they will then pass to the Council of Ministers, and subsequently to the Council of Representatives to be passed into law.

The CAA is currently led by acting director general Sabeeh al-Shebany. A move to make his position permanent will be reviewed by Jabbar over the coming weeks.

At the same time, McCormick says, construction work is progressing well at Iraq’s airports. Mosul International is expected to reopen for scheduled flights on 23 August, while Baghdad hopes that Najaf’s airport will reopen in time for the Hajj pilgrimage in the first week of December.

At Irbil in the Kurdish north of the country, the airport’s second runway and a terminal with capacity for 2.8 million passengers is under way and is expected to open by spring 2009.

National carrier Iraqi Airways is due to receive the first of 10 aircraft from the Canadian manufacturer Bombardier in late August.

The planes will be the first delivery from the airline’s controversial $6bn spending programme, which also includes the acquisition of 40 Boeing aircraft.

Kuwait is threatening to seize any new aircraft that land outside Iraq to settle a $1.2bn compensation claim arising from the theft of planes and aviation equipment during the 1990 invasion (MEED 29:2:08).